After existing for more than 100-million-years, lying dormant in the ocean bed barely without oxygen and food, the ancient creatures were bought back to life by scientists at a Japanese institute, at the end of July.
A team of researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology successfully revived a cluster of ancient microbes back to life in the lab, after collecting 100-million-years-old sediments from the ocean floor, according to multiple media reports.
The micro-organisms, which had lain dormant at the bottom of the sea for eons even multiplied and ate food in the lab setting, shedding light on the unimaginable capacity of some of the world’s most primitive creatures to survive without oxygen and food.
To collect the specimen, the researchers extracted sediments that have been depositing in the seabed for eons in the South Pacific ocean. The team incubated the organisms to awaken them from their epoch-spanning slumber, the Guardian reports.
Surprisingly, the region from where the researchers extracted the sediments is known for having much lesser nutrients than other similar regions, let alone being an ideal site to nurture life for over millennia.
“When I found them, I was first skeptical whether the findings are from some mistake or a failure in the experiment,” lead author Yuki Morono said.
“We now know that there is no age limit for [organisms in the] sub-seafloor biosphere,” Yuki Morono told AFP. He explained, traces of oxygen in the million-years-old sediments kept them alive, while the organisms virtually used no energy.
Previous studies show microorganisms like bacterias can exist in the least expected places on earth, like vents devoid of oxygen under the sea among others.
The outstanding and mysterious finding have been published in the journal Nature Communications. The study authors say, “direct evidence of the physiological nature and survival status of microbial cells in this extremely energy-poor setting is previously lacking.”
How these microbes managed to exist is a mystery.