The two tiny nematodes (also called roundworms) were discovered in ancient permafrost in two areas of Russia’s frigid north. Scientists from Russia, in partnership with Princeton University, estimate the worms to be around 32,000 and 42,000 years old, which would make them the oldest known living organisms on Earth.
The worms were found in permafrost samples taken from the ground; one was found on the inside of an ancient squirrel burrow while the other was discovered near a river. The permafrost samples were kept in storage before being slowly thawed, and once the temperature was warm enough for the worms to handle, they sprung back to life. Some are found living 1.3 kilometers below Earth's surface, deeper than any other multicellular animal. Certain worms that live on an island in the Indian Ocean can develop one of five different mouths, depending on what type of food is available.
Researchers from Moscow State University in Russia and Princeton University in the US analysed 300 samples of Arctic permafrost deposits and found two that held several well-preserved nematodes. One sample was collected from a fossil squirrel burrow near the Alazeya River in the northeastern part of Yakutia, Russia, from deposits estimated to be about 32,000 years old, the 'Live Science' reported.
Source: nst.com.my, nypost.com, economictimes.indiatimes.com