Ancient Viruses To Be Revived From Frozen Prehistoric Fossils

Russian scientists plan to revive ancient viruses found in millennia-old fossils to better understand their evolution.

Experts at the NEFU Mammoth Museum will be studied for traces of prehistoric viruses that could survive in permafrost conditions.

The fossils of over 20 species of ancient animals were found in the thawed permafrost of the Russian republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, close to the Arctic Circle and are carefully preserved in temperatures between -18 to -16 degrees Celsius (0 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit).

The research began with a sample of soft tissue from a horse that lived 4,450 years ago and was found in the region of Verkhoyansky in 2009.

The genome of the horse has been decoded and scientists plan to study all the microorganisms inhabiting it in detail.

Other animals being studied include the Omoloy elk, the Malolyakhovsky mammoth, the Tumat dog, and various rodents.

The research is conducted by scientists from the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk with specialists from the Vector scientific centre for virology and biotechnology.

The project has been planned for over a decade and will use experts of paleovirology, the study of ancient viruses.

Vector researcher Olesya Okhlopkova said: “Right now we have moved from planning to action.”

Head of the Mammoth Museum’s laboratory Maxim Cheprasov said: “These are findings from the past 10 years and for the first time they will be examined for the presence of paleoviruses.”

Studying them will help scientists better understand the evolutionary processes of the viruses and the history of epidemics that have occurred on the planet.


To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: Feza Uzay, Sub-Editor: Joana Mihajlovska, Agency:  Newsflash

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