The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

30,000-year-old Siberian virus brought back to life

(Screenshot: Youtube) (Screenshot: Youtube)  

French scientists extracted a 30,000-year-old giant virus last week from the Siberian tundra and brought it back to life, proving how smart scientists are and giving global warming activists potential ammunition in the process.

Pithovirus sibericumnamed by the French couple who discovered it in a Greek container used to store food and wine – is not dangerous to humans or animals. But the scientists warned in their report that future thawing of permafrost “either from global warming or industrial exploitation” could expose more threatening viruses.

Professor Jean-Michel Claverie, one of the scientists who discovered the virus, told BBC News this discovery means viruses long declared eradicated, such as smallpox, could still be around and pose a new threat to humans. ”It is a recipe for disaster,” he said. “If you start having industrial explorations, people will start to move around the deep permafrost layers … this is where the danger is coming from.”

But concerns like Claverie’s are essentially speculation at this point. Whether all viruses could become threats again after being frozen is unclear. Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist from the University of Nottingham, told BBC News that’s a six million dollar question.

“Finding a virus still capable of infecting its host after such a long time is still pretty astounding,” Ball told the BBC. “But just how long other viruses could remain viable in permafrost is anyone’s guess.”

The virus is the largest ever found, and belongs to a class of giant viruses discovered 10 years ago, reports science journal Nature. Claverie told Nature this virus is 150 times less compacted than any other known virus that infects bacteria.

“We don’t understand anything anymore!” said Claverie.

He and his wife, Chantal Abergel, who led the team, are evolutionary biologists from the National Center of Scientific Research at Aix-Marseille University in France.

Watch the virus infect an amoeba in this video posted by New Scientist: