One quarter of the Northern Hemisphere used to be permafrost, where the ground itself is always frozen. But due to climate change, that frost is not so perma after all. Melting glaciers and thawing permafrost have been revealing secrets for years, like preserved mammoths and ancient human artifacts, but they have also revealed viruses that the world hasn't seen in thousands of years.
What we call "zombies" are beings that have died and come back to life. Viruses live on the very edge of our definition of "alive," so they can be frozen for thousands of years and reactivate when thawed. But while they were frozen, other species have moved on, and have not had to develop immunity from novel viruses. Russian scientists have identified 13 unique viruses in the thawing Siberian permafrost, one that was identified as 48,500 years old -a world record. Three distinct viruses were identified in a 27,000-year-old chunk of mammoth poop.
The viruses that have been identified so far only infect amoebas, but they have the potential to become infectious pathogens to other species. -via Strange Company
(Image credit: NASA)