Frozen in the Siberian permafrost for the last 46,000 years, this tiny roundworm was revived by scientists. While the worm has since died, it did birth numerous babies in the lab before its final goodbye.
From the Washington Post:
Beyond the "wow" factor of a time-traveling nematode, there's a practical reason to study how these tiny, spindle-shaped creatures go dormant to survive extreme environments, said Philipp Schiffer, group leader at the Institute for Zoology at the University of Cologne and one of the authors of the study. Such work may reveal more about how, at a molecular level, animals can adapt as habitats shift because of soaring global temperatures and changing weather patterns.
"We need to know how species adapted to the extreme through evolution to maybe help species alive today and humans as well," Schiffer wrote in an email.
The recipe for reviving these creatures is fairly simple, Schiffer said. Researchers thaw the soil, taking care to not warm it too quickly to avoid cooking the nematodes. The worms then start wriggling around, eating bacteria in a lab dish and reproducing.
This study extends the longest reported cryptobiosis in nematodes by tens of thousands of years. By adapting to cope with extreme conditions, such as permafrost, for short periods of time, the nematodes might have gained the potential to remain dormant over geological timescales.