that is not dead which can eternal lie
July 8, 2019 6:33 PM   Subscribe

Last year, Tatiana Vishnivetskaya, a microbiologist at the University of Tennessee, and her team drilled deep into the Siberian permafrost. As usual, they were seeking singled-celled organisms: the only life-forms thought to be viable after being frozen for millennia. They placed the material on petri dishes in their room-temperature lab and noticed something strange: hulking among the puny bacteria and amoebæ were long, segmented worms, still alive after 41,000 years.
posted by ragtag (38 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
me after an accidental 14h nap
posted by poffin boffin at 6:37 PM on July 8, 2019 [19 favorites]


C'mon, this was literally an x-files episode.
posted by figurant at 6:40 PM on July 8, 2019 [49 favorites]


This feels like the beginning of the end, like the intro chapter before the pulpy post-apocalyptic zombie/cyberpunk dystopia adventure novel where all of humanity lives in like a cast off oil platform subsisting on a diet of vat grown plankton.
And it's not even the good plankton, it's the mushy kind.
posted by signal at 6:43 PM on July 8, 2019 [24 favorites]


Boy are they going to be surprised by 2019.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:00 PM on July 8, 2019 [14 favorites]


My biopedantry is slightly offended by the article's description of nematodes as "segmented worms." That said, this is very cool. When I worked in the Antarctic, we used to enjoy putting ancient glacier ice in our drinks (gritty!), joking that there was always a nonzero chance the air bubbles in some piece could contain that supervirus that would wipe us all out.
posted by deadbilly at 7:06 PM on July 8, 2019 [37 favorites]


Hi I’ve seen this movie so can we just jump to the flamethrowers now?
posted by The Whelk at 7:07 PM on July 8, 2019 [28 favorites]


Hi I’ve seen this movie

Captain America? I wonder if the worms prefer flip phones too.
posted by mundo at 7:10 PM on July 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


This person needs to partner with Boston Dynamics, like, yesterday

it will all turn out super well
posted by salt grass at 7:15 PM on July 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


This discovery is maybe not so shocking to those of us who have collections of c elegans frozen in the -80C.

The 41000 years was interesting but it’s really the freezing and thawing that are the treacherous parts, not the steady state so much....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:24 PM on July 8, 2019 [8 favorites]


(It is customary when using c elegans worms as research tools to freeze your strains at -80c. They usually recover alright when you thaw them back to room temp - easier to keep them frozen than having to feed them etc while you’re on vacation or if you know you won’t need a particular strain for a few months)
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:27 PM on July 8, 2019 [19 favorites]


Somebody needs to get a hold of Kurt Russell immediately.
posted by lownote at 8:07 PM on July 8, 2019 [8 favorites]


But see, amid the mimic rout,
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

Out—out are the lights—out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:20 PM on July 8, 2019 [18 favorites]


All hail the nematode.
posted by thelonius at 8:40 PM on July 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


Too soon lownote...

Too soon

(The Thing nightmares...)
posted by Windopaene at 9:24 PM on July 8, 2019


When I worked in the Antarctic, we used to enjoy putting ancient glacier ice in our drinks (gritty!), joking that there was always a nonzero chance the air bubbles in some piece could contain that supervirus that would wipe us all out.

Do you want brainworms? Because I'm pretty sure this is how you get brainworms. And wipe out humanity with a supervirus. And brainworms.
posted by loquacious at 9:26 PM on July 8, 2019 [17 favorites]


Oddly the article says they are long segmented worms, and then tells you they only half a millimeter long, in fact. I guess that’s long for a nematode? It is pretty cold there.
posted by w0mbat at 10:20 PM on July 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


I do love The Thing (1982).
posted by yueliang at 10:21 PM on July 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


This is fine.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:41 PM on July 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


Well, it's been a good run everybody.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 10:47 PM on July 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


wait 'til the kaiju awaken.
posted by kliuless at 11:07 PM on July 8, 2019


Citation for the poem is, of course, Poe. Of course. Grandiosity and death.
posted by Peach at 3:18 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm just a simple worm
tends to parasitize
I seem to lean on
Old familiar ways
And I ain't no fool for love songs
Never evolved no ears
Still squirming after all these years
Oh still squirming after all these years
posted by otherchaz at 3:45 AM on July 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


Feed them the sarcophagus water.
posted by jonnay at 4:54 AM on July 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


Thanks for this, I hate it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:28 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


(It is customary when using c elegans worms as research tools to freeze your strains at -80c. They usually recover alright when you thaw them back to room temp - easier to keep them frozen than having to feed them etc while you’re on vacation or if you know you won’t need a particular strain for a few months)

Does this work for annoying coworkers as well? Asking for a friend.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:41 AM on July 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


Little Ice Age

That's the neighborhood these guys with "a head at one end and anus at the other" are going to move into when they grow up. (Until the place is gentrified, of course, by something with an anus at one end and anus at the other.)
posted by pracowity at 5:45 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


my name is Werm
and wen its hot
from people gas
(who say its not)
and all the ice
has turned to rain
they dig me up
i eat the brane
posted by The Bellman at 6:49 AM on July 9, 2019 [53 favorites]


"I'm just a humble nematode, your world frightens and confuses me."
posted by Going To Maine at 6:49 AM on July 9, 2019 [12 favorites]


Shh, nobody tell Peter Thiel.
posted by Selena777 at 7:24 AM on July 9, 2019


"Good heavens, is that the time?"
posted by BWA at 7:43 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


Do they know the way through the Labyrinth?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:40 AM on July 9, 2019


Shh, nobody tell Peter Thiel.

I'm pretty sure he already knows that he's a worm.
posted by loquacious at 9:25 AM on July 9, 2019


I was thinking it is time for a ‘The Thing’ gritty (!) reboot.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 12:36 PM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


Nematodes are not segmented and they do not "hulk" over amoeba. They don't hulk at all.
posted by acrasis at 3:47 PM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


well not with that attitude they won't
posted by poffin boffin at 5:48 PM on July 9, 2019 [6 favorites]


At least one scientist in the relevant field is skeptical about the find and thinks the nematodes are probably just from modern contamination of the sample.
posted by w0mbat at 12:38 PM on July 10, 2019 [3 favorites]


I searched the article for "worm" and was a bit disappointed when it was nematodes. Something like saying they thawed out "a couple of bears from a glacier and they were still alive!" And it turns out to be tardigrades.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 5:44 PM on July 10, 2019 [3 favorites]


Tardigrades are the best bears.
posted by away for regrooving at 1:28 AM on July 12, 2019


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