30,000-year-old virus comes back to life

Permafrost is a thick layer of ice and snow in the Siberian region of Russia that stays frozen all year but climate change has caused the layer to begin to melt.
By Aileen Graef Follow @AileenGraef Contact the Author   |   March 4, 2014 at 9:55 AM

SIBERIA, Russia, March 4 (UPI) -- A 30,000-year-old virus was released from the permafrost in Siberia and came back to life.

The virus became infectious again once it thawed but poses no danger to humans. At 1.5 micrometers long, the virus is the largest ever found and is comparable to the size of a small bacterium. The new species of giant virus, which can be seen under a microscope, was named Pithovirus sibericum by Professor Jean-Michele Claverie and his wife, who discovered it.

Despite the fact that more viruses could be found in the ice, scientists say "the risk of a virus pathogenic to humans being released is very small."


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