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34,000-Year-Old Organisms Found Buried Alive

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the ceti-alpha-five-not-involved dept.

Science 150

cold fjord writes "A scientist has made a weird and wonderful find. 'It's a tale that has all the trappings of a cult 1960s sci-fi movie: Scientists bring back ancient salt crystals, dug up from deep below Death Valley for climate research. The sparkling crystals are carefully packed away until, years later, a young, unknown researcher takes a second look at the 34,000-year-old crystals and discovers, trapped inside, something strange. Something... alive.' The Geological Society of America's current issue of GSA Today has the academic paper."

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150 comments

*phew* (1, Funny)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#34880932)

Anyone else read 34,000 year old Orgasms?

Re:*phew* (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881240)

Yeah, it's been about that long for me, too.

Re:*phew* (1)

ruthless reader (1892470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881878)

Yeah, it's been about that long for me, too.

I'm guessing "They're alive, but they're not using any energy to swim around, they're not reproducing," part...

tl;dr: (1)

GoNINzo (32266) | more than 3 years ago | (#34880940)

tl;dr: They found bacteria alive in salt crystals

Re:tl;dr: (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881070)

They weren't bacteria, it's a single complex organism. Also, the scientists are Swedish I think...

Re:tl;dr: (4, Insightful)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881086)

Step one for finding interesting life: look in places where you know damn well life cannot exist.

Re:tl;dr: (3, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881260)

St. Louis, Missouri?

Re:tl;dr: (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881532)

EAST St. Louis, Illinois.

Racist (0)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881620)

That was highly racist!

Re:Racist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881888)

Doesn't make it not true!

Zing...

Re:Racist (1)

BassMan449 (1356143) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881914)

Did he say anything about anyone skin? All I see is the name of a city. St. Louis MO can be pretty bad, but East St Louis IL is much worse. It's an observable fact and there is nothing racist about it.

Re:tl;dr: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881770)

Well, okay, we can probably rule out obvious places like that...

Re:tl;dr: (0)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34882884)

Actually, yes. =D

Boiling deep sea volcanos, under-ice salt deposits. Life is good at living. Look where you least expect and you'll still likely find it... so long as we haven't screwed with the area yet.

silicon life? (4, Funny)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34880978)

It calls itself a horta!

Re:silicon life? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881162)

NO KILL I

Dammit, Slashdot, I'm a poster, not a doctor. It's not my fault that damn Horta is yelling.

Re:silicon life? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881324)

Sounds more like a Crystelline Entity...

Obligatory (-1, Redundant)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881002)

I, for one, welcome our new 34,000 year-old crystalline overlords...

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881028)

This isn't funny anymore!

Re:Obligatory (2)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881110)

Neither is Slashdot, but we keep on coming here anyway.

I wonder why...

Re:Obligatory (2)

asnelt (1837090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881128)

Strange, I was about to post the exact same comment, character for character...

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881370)

Strange, I was about to mod you down too.

Could this perhaps be a sign that this meme is getting the tiniest bit stale?

Re:Obligatory (1)

holymartyr75 (1087377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881972)

So is calling something a "meme"

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34882656)

So is putting a widely-used and easily-comprehensible term in "scare quotes".

Meme me (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34882694)

So is calling something a "meme"

I'd be happy to stop calling things "memes" but calling them "retarded internet running gags" seems a tad harsh...

CNN reports (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881062)

After their amazing rescue the bacteria were interviewed by Anderson Cooper. The bacteria expressed their thanks for being rescued from their 34,000 years of imprisonment in a salt tomb in Death Valley. It's a miracle all the bacteria survived for the full 34,000 years and the bacteria thanked God for keeping them alive and their rescue. When asked what they planned to do all replied, "We're going to Disneyland!" The bacteria are expected to put in an appearance on the new Oprah network next week and have been offered their own reality series.

Re:CNN reports (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881238)

Meh, watching bacteria sit in a hibernation state for 34,000 years would still be more entertaining twenty minutes of Jersey Shore. It's kind of like how Purgatory is better than Hell, even those it's incredibly uneventful.

An agent for the bacteria... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881270)

...also announced an upcoming series of ads for Geico featuring the little guys.

Re:CNN reports (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881294)

First I laughed.

Then, I appreciated the cultural satire with some envy of the other AC for doing it brilliantly.

Then, I shook my head in disgust because of the truth of it.

Then, I imagined one of the bacteria insisting on being referred to as "The Bacteria" (showing off his well defined flagella) and another one being "Bact-Wow" and yet another one (the fat one with too much makeup on its pili) being called "Pookie".

Re:CNN reports (0)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881302)

MSNBC reports that hate speech on talk radio resulted in their 34,000 year imprisonment. Democrats in Congress propose banning salt [nydailynews.com].

Re:CNN reports (2)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881570)

And Fox News complained that this does not fall in line with their version of reality which only goes back 6000 years or so, and does not include dinosaurs. Praise fucking Jesus and be sure and get your Glenn Beck Survival Backpack with your Cash For Gold money! And stop posting pictures of Sarah Palin with a target on her face and a caption reading; "Dump your load here!" That would not be fair!

Re:CNN reports (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881460)

God couldn't have kept them alive for 34,000 years as the universe is only 6,000 years old because the creationists say it is.

Only the devil could have planted them there.

Re:CNN reports (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881984)

New earth creationists believe the earth is only 6000 yrs old.
Not all creationists put an estimated age on the earth. Some of us think that it is just as preposterous as you do!

Re:CNN reports (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881718)

It's a miracle all the bacteria survived for the full 34,000 years and the bacteria thanked God for keeping them alive and their rescue.

Which God did he thank that claims that Earth is that old?

I hope they didnt find what i think they found (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881064)

As long as it wasn't the salt-withered but still-living body of Takezo Kensei, they can go ahead and resurrect whatever they want.

Specimen handling protocols (4, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881080)

Any geo/biology wizards out there care to comment on whether the protocols for handling specimens intended for climate research are adequate to prevent biological contamination?

If the crystals were dated at 34,000 years, but somebody sneezed on them last week .....

Re:Specimen handling protocols (4, Informative)

Takichi (1053302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881322)

FTA:

Schubert and Lowenstein are not the first to uncover organisms that are astonishingly long-lived. About a decade ago, there were claims of discoveries of 250-million-year-old bacteria. The results weren't reproduced, and remain controversial. Schubert, however, was able to reproduce his results. Not only did he grow the same organisms again in his own lab, he sent crystals to another lab, which then got the same results. "So this wasn't something that was just a contaminant from our lab," Schubert said.

The article also mentions that his original finding was about a year ago, but his work is actually being published now.

2012 (4, Funny)

Mondorescue (652638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881104)

Suddenly the 2012 presidential election looks more interesting.

Re:2012 (2)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881256)

Why? Just because they finally have a candidate available that actually older than John McCain?

Dissapointing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881116)

I was expecting a mammoth..

"young, unknown researcher"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881148)

If the researcher was unknown... how was their age "young" known. Or is everybody young compared to 34,000 year-old salt?

Re:"young, unknown researcher"? (3, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881224)

Because only someone young (and foolish) would release something that's been entombed alive for 34,000 years.

Do not believe! (2, Informative)

GodricL (1898284) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881158)

This is another test of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. By noodly decree, the earth is only 32,000 years old. His Meatballiness tests our faith with this blasphemy!

Re:Do not believe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881588)

Flying Spaghetti Monster? Heresy!

We all know that the Invisible Pink Unicorn is the only deity!

Algae present as well (4, Interesting)

jeffliott (1558799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881164)

Missing from the summary is that there were algae present in the salt crystals as well, and that they likely contributed to the survivability of the bacteria. I'm really curious how the algae survived though!

Re:Algae present as well (1, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881204)

Obviously the algae were living off of the remains of dead bacteria...

Re:Algae present as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881248)

But how did the bacteria survive?!?

Re:Algae present as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881312)

They were living off of the remains of dead algae ...

Skeptical (-1)

EnderDom (1934586) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881266)

I'm skeptical about this, where is the evidence that these organisms have been alive for 34,000. Why can't they have just been living, reproducing and dying for 34,000 years. If we found a unknown colony of humans in a cave that had been closed of for 34,000 years we wouldn't immediately assume they must have super-human longevity, we'd more likely think these a the great-great-etc-great-grandchildren of some idiot who got trapped in cave 34,000 years ago.

Re:Skeptical (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881524)

the great-great-etc-great-grandchildren of some idiot who got trapped in cave 34,000 years ago.

If only he had stopped to ask for directions...

Re:Skeptical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881642)

Why can't they have just been living, reproducing and dying for 34,000 years.

This might be a shock to you, but in order to reproduce, that requires reproduction!

Since reproduction is ruled out, that means there are no offspring.

This is the difference between science, which follows facts to support claims, compared to what ever it is you are doing...

It's loose?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881278)

Damn, haven't any of you seen THE THING? (the movie, not your first date rape experience). This sucker is on the loose and it's gonna get everybody.

Time to get out the Kurt Russell and start whooping some ass!

Good, good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881320)

One more reason to think that "age" as a concept is fictitious. If the bacteria are alive after 34000 years, are they 34000 years old? Can human life extension do the same trick?

The unwashed masses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881486)

Reading the comments on Yahoo! News are somewhat entertaining and disconcerting considering the high level of ignorance in there. I started clicking around to other science and political articles and it's amazing!

It has diminished my faith in people a few notches. I may have to become a super-villain and attempt a hard reboot of humanity.

Soviet Political Prisoners Eat Ancient Fauna (4, Interesting)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881492)

In 1949 some friends and I came upon a noteworthy news item in Nature, a magazine of the Academy of Sciences. It reported in tiny type that in the course of excavations on the Kolyma River a subterranean ice lens had been discovered which was actually a frozen stream - and in it were found frozen specimens of prehistoric fauna some tens of thousands of years old. Whether fish or salamander, these were preseved in so fresh a state, the scientific correspondent reported, that those present immediately broke open the ice encasing the specimens and devoured them with relish on the spot.

The magazine no doubt astonished its small audience with the news of how successfully the flesh of fish could be kept fresh in a frozen state. But few, indeed, among its readers were able to decipher the genuine and heroic meaning of this incautious report.

As for us, however - we understood instantly. We could picture the entrire scene right down to the smallest details: how those present broke up the ice in frenzied haste; how, flouting the higher claims of ichthyology and elbowing each other to be first, they tore off chunks of the prehistoric flesh and hauled them over to the bonfire to thaw them out and bolt them down.

We understood because we ourselves were the same kind of people as those present at that event. We, too were from that powerful tribe of Zeks, unique on the face of the earth, the only people who could devour prehistoric salamander with relish.

From the Preface to The Gulag Archipelago [google.com] by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

New Overlords? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34881672)

I for one welcome out new salt bacteria overlords.

Nauls: Maybe we're at war with Norway? (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34881958)

MacReady: I dunno, it's like this: thousands of years ago this spaceship crashes, and this thing, whatever it is, jumps out or crawls out and gets entombed in the ice.
Garry: So, the Norwegians find it, and they dig it out of the ice...
MacReady: That's right, Garry. They dig it up, they cart it back to their base. Somehow it gets thawed, it wakes up, probaly not the best of moods, and... I don't know, I wasn't there!

Comma! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34882006)

Found buried, alive (as in buried and alive, not buried alive).

Grammar nazi out!

Re:Comma! (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34882264)

if it's "buried and alive", doesn't that suggest it was "buried alive" in the first place, unless of course it resuscitated itself after it was buried dead...

really??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34882486)

Are we seriously left to linking to stories off yahoo now? Wtf is happening to this site? How about at least linking to the original story! livescience.com you lazy people

Death Valley Expansion Pack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34882524)

Imprisoned for thirty four thousand years... Banished from their own homeland... And now you dare enter their realm? You are not prepared. ...

Hookem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34882632)

Isn't this the same story about how Oklahoma was discovered? Oh, wait, I'm mistaken, they also found culture in this latest discovery.

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