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Thread: Ancient Virus Comes Back To Life.

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    Ancient Virus Comes Back To Life.



    A giant virus that lay dormant under the Siberian permafrost for 30,000 years, has come back to life.
    The ancient pathogen called Pithovirus sibericum which belongs to a class of "giant viruses", was discovered by a team of French scientists. It had been sleeping 30m down in the frozen ground but when it was defrosted back in the lab, it came back to life and is still infectious.
    Professor Jean-Michel Claverie from the National Centre of Scientific Research at the University of Aix-Marseille in France, said " This is the first time we`ve seen a virus that is still infectious after this length of time".
    The virus attacks amoebas but is no threat to animals or humans. However, researchers believe more dangerous pathogens could also lie under the Siberian permafrost.


    Abstract: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/02/26/1320670111

    BBC coverage along with an interview with Professor Jean-Michel Claverie:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26387276

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    30 million years is amazing! What is rarely mentioned in science that even viruses can go extinct too. Probably together with hosts, if virus have narrow specialization.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    30 million years is amazing! What is rarely mentioned in science that even viruses can go extinct too. Probably together with hosts, if virus have narrow specialization.
    Yes, it`s definitely amazing, LeBrok, I agree. To think that virus lay dormant for that length of time and when it defrosted it was up and ready to go...bit scary too.
    They say climate change has caused the permafrost to retreat and reduce in thickness, I hate to think what else might be under it.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    Yes, it`s definitely amazing, LeBrok, I agree. To think that virus lay dormant for that length of time and when it defrosted it was up and ready to go...bit scary too.
    They say climate change has caused the permafrost to retreat and reduce in thickness, I hate to think what else might be under it.
    I was thinking along your lines first time I learned that scientists are drilling 3km down through ice to old lakes in Antarctica, which were covered with ice for few million years.
    Probably in most of cases old viruses would be incompatible with new species, thus nonvirulent. However by stupid chance (whatever small) we might be completely defenseless against something so old that we never had contact with therefore immunity.

    Sorry I said 30 million years for some reason, my bad. It is actually 30 thousand, and more in line with recoverable DNA from fossils, although because of size it is always damaged in places. Virus is much simpler than our DNA and has a better chance to survive thousands of years undamaged.

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    Has anyone ever seen the film Smilla's Sense of Snow? It's a suspenseful, well-made film directed by Bille August about what might happen should we unearth dangerous things from beneath the snow. It stars Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne and is based on a book by Danish author Peter Hoeg.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Has anyone ever seen the film Smilla's Sense of Snow? It's a suspenseful, well-made film directed by Bille August about what might happen should we unearth dangerous things from beneath the snow. It stars Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne and is based on a book by Danish author Peter Hoeg.
    I haven`t seen it but I have just looked at the trailer, so I might now keep an eye open for it...thanks.

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