Bdelloid rotifers typically live in watery environments and have an incredible ability to survive. Russian scientists found the creatures in a core of frozen soil extracted from the Siberian permafrost using a drilling rig. CNN reports:“Our report is the hardest proof as of today that multicellular animals could withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, the state of almost completely arrested metabolism,” said Stas Malavin, a researcher at the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Pushchino Scientific Center for Biological Research in Russia.
Earlier research by other groups had shown that the rotifers could survive up to 10 years when frozen. In a new study, the Russian researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine that the critters they recovered from the permafrost — ground that is frozen year-round, apart from a thin layer near the surface — were about 24,000 years old.
The study was published in the journal Current Biology on Monday. It’s not the first time ancient life has been resurrected from a permanently frozen habitat.