30,000 Year-old Frozen Bacteria Brought Back to Life

06 March 2005


NASA scientists working on samples of Alaskan permafrost have discovered a new form of life that has been frozen in time for over 30,000 years. When the scientists thawed the ice under a microscope the newly-identified organisms, bacteria christened Carnobacterium pleistocenium, showed signs of life and began swimming around. The bugs, which date back to an era when mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers roamed the earth, were collected from a tunnel drilled through the ice near the town of Fox. Richard Hoover, who made the discovery, says that the findings raise the prospects of finding life on Mars because the bacteria were extracted from half-metre thick wedges of ice similar to structures seen on the red planet. Indeed, the Mars Express probe has recently revealed the presence of a giant frozen sea near the Martian equator, which could provide the ideal conditions for microbial activity.


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