Scientists Revive 48,500-Year-Old ‘Zombie’ Virus Because Apparently, We Haven’t Learned Anything About Playing With Viruses

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Scientists have revived a “zombie” virus that had been dormant in Arctic permafrost for nearly 50,000.

Have we not learned anything from the last few years when it comes to playing around with viruses?

French professor Jean-Michel Claverie — who we can only assume has never seen a horror movie — discovered multiple strains of the ancient virus in permafrost. Permafrost is a layer of soil that is frozen all year.

The strains he discovered ranged in age from 27,000 to 48,500 years old. One of the specimens was even found in a wooly carcass mammoth.

Here comes the misstep: Instead of just going back to France, drinking some wine, chowing down on some delicious escargot, and telling all of his nerd buds about the sweet viruses he found, Claverie decided it was time to experiment.

It’s almost like no one learned everything from one of the most recent times fooling around with viruses in the name of science went awry. (Getty Images)

Fooling Around With Ancient Viruses: Bad Idea Or Terrible Idea?

He and his scientific cohorts revived the ancient viruses — which he calls “zombie viruses” — and used them to infect amoebas. This meant that after all of these years, the ancient viruses still could infect living cells.

“We view these amoeba-infecting viruses as surrogates for all other possible viruses that might be in permafrost,” Claverie told CNN. “We see the traces of many, many, many other viruses. So we know they are there. We don’t know for sure that they are still alive. But our reasoning is that if the amoeba viruses are still alive, there is no reason why the other viruses will not be still alive, and capable of infecting their own hosts.”

This is cool to know. I’m all about science. That said, maybe we could’ve just let those viruses stay in the mammoth carcass instead of taking them to a lab from which they could… y’know… escape.

Claverie is one of the only scientists that study so-called zombie viruses. He feels this is a huge concern as permafrost continues to melt.

“This wrongly suggests that such occurrences are rare and that ‘zombie viruses’ are not a public health threat,” he wrote earlier this month in the appropriately titled scientific journal, Viruses.

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Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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