An ancient virus of unprecedented size has been recovered from 30,000-year-old permafrost in Siberia and reactivated. Incredibly, sixty percent of its genes do not resemble anything currently found on Earth. The virus, which is so large it can be seen under a microscope, dates back to a time when mammoths, Neanderthals, and early humans walked the Earth. And now it has been revived, bringing new fears that other potentially harmful pathogens could be released by the thawing tundra of Siberia. The virus, which has been dubbed Pithovirus sibericum after the Greek ‘pithos, meaning a large amphora, is infectious to amoebas but does not appear harmful to human cells.
It was found in a 100-foot-deep sample of permanently frozen soil taken from coastal tundra in Chukotka, near the East Siberian Sea, and the detailed findings have just been released in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Exploration of the Siberian permafrost is expected to increase as it is thought to contain thirty percent of the world’s oil reserves, gold deposits and other key minerals. There is therefore a danger that viruses which humans have never encountered before, and have no immunity to, could emerge from the ice.
– See more at: Humans are free