A giant virus known as Pithovirus sibericum has laid dormat underneath thick layers of ice in Siberia for the past 30,000 years. Buried 98-feet below the surface of a sediment from the Pleistocene epoch, the virus has just been thawed out by scientists, who have revived it and made it infectious again, for the first time in thousands of years. What's the worst that could happen... right?!
NPR reports that the concerning find was just published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which states that the virus thankfully poses no apparent threat to humans. Unlike most viruses, this one is so large that it can actually be seen under a microscope, and it's said to only infect tiny amoebas.
What's most concerning about all this is the question of what other viruses lurk beneath the surface of our world, just waiting to be unearthed and re-animated by industrial exploration. Jean-Michel Claverie from France's National Center for Scientific Research believes that mining and drilling permafrost layers is a "recipe for disaster," and that viruses like smallpox could be brought back to life, in the near future.
"If it is true that these viruses survive in the same way those amoeba viruses survive, then smallpox is not eradicated from the planet — only [from] the surface," Claverie says. "By going deeper, we may reactivate the possibility that smallpox could become again a disease of humans in modern times."
What other strange things are scientists up to? Take a trip to their body farms, where they watch human beings decompose!