This Is How the Zombie Apocalypse Starts
Scientists at a laboratory in France have thawed out and revived an ancient virus found in the Siberian permafrost, making it infectious again for the first time in 30,000 years.
The giant virus known as Pithovirus sibericum was discovered about 100 feet deep in coastal tundra. The pathogen infects tiny amoebas — simple, one-celled organisms.
It isn’t dangerous to humans, but its reanimation raises questions about what else might be lurking under the ice, says the French and Russian team that brought it back to life. Their work is in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS.
“The revival of such an ancestral amoeba-infecting virus … suggests that the thawing of permafrost either from global warming or industrial exploitation of circumpolar regions might not be exempt from future threats to human or animal health,” the scientists write.