Scientists have revived a "zombie" virus that spent 48,500 years frozen in permafrost

In 2021, a team of researchers announced that they had revived a "zombie" virus that had been frozen in permafrost for approximately 48,500 years. The virus, known as Pithovirus sibericum, was discovered in a sample of Siberian permafrost that had been excavated in 2000. Pithovirus sibericum is a large, complex virus that infects amoebas. The virus was previously unknown to science and was only discovered when the permafrost sample was thawed and analyzed in the lab. The researchers found that the virus was still infectious after being frozen for thousands of years and was able to infect amoebas in the lab. While the discovery of the virus is significant for scientific research, it does not pose a significant danger to human health. Pithovirus sibericum is not known to infect humans or any other animals besides amoebas. Additionally, the virus is only found in permafrost samples in Siberia, so the chances of human exposure to the virus are very low. However, the discovery of Pithovirus sibericum does raise concerns about the potential risks associated with climate change. As the Earth's climate warms, permafrost in the Arctic is melting, which could release ancient viruses and other pathogens that have been dormant for thousands or even millions of years. While most of these viruses are not dangerous to humans, there is a risk that some of them could be harmful if they were to infect humans or other animals. Therefore, the discovery of Pithovirus sibericum underscores the importance of studying these ancient viruses and understanding their potential risks to human health. It also highlights the need to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change and prevent the release of harmful pathogens from melting permafrost Pithovirus sibericum is a type of virus known as a giant virus, which is much larger and more complex than typical viruses such as influenza or HIV. The virus has a unique structure that sets it apart from other known viruses. The Pithovirus sibericum particle has an ovoid shape, with a length of approximately 1.5 micrometers and a diameter of about 0.5 micrometers. It is surrounded by a thick outer shell, which is composed of two layers of proteins. The outer layer is covered with long fibers that give the virus a hairy appearance. Inside the outer shell, the virus has a thick core that contains its genetic material, which is composed of double-stranded DNA. The core is also surrounded by a layer of proteins, which help to protect the virus's genetic material and aid in the infection of host cells. Pithovirus sibericum is known to infect amoebas, which are single-celled organisms that live in water and soil. When the virus infects an amoeba, it enters the cell and uses its genetic material to take over the cell's machinery, allowing the virus to replicate and produce more virus particles. Overall, the structure of Pithovirus sibericum is complex and distinct from other viruses. Its large size and unique structure make it an interesting subject for scientific research, as it provides insight into the diversity of viruses and their evolutionary history

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