34,000 year old bacteria comes back from the dead in zombie-like state.
Thirty-four millennia ago, some bacteria got trapped inside salt crystals in what is now Death Valley. These crystals were recently dug up and the bacteria freed from their hibernation…and then they started reproducing.
Salt crystals can grow incredibly quickly and are known to trap whatever tiny organisms don’t get out of the way. For most microscopic critters, entrapment would mean a swift death inside the crystal. But this particular type of bacteria managed to shut down their entire bodies and wait out their imprisonment, subsisting off of little algae cells called Dunaliella. Researcher Brian Schubert, who made the discovery, explains what was going on inside the crystals:
“They’re alive, but they’re not using any energy to swim around, they’re not reproducing. They’re not doing anything at all except maintaining themselves. The most exciting part to me was when we were able to identify the Dunaliella cells in there, because there were hints that could be a food source.”
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