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Biotech Earth Science

Bacteria Found Alive In Ice 120,000 Years Old 326

Posted by kdawson
from the by-some-definitions-of-alive dept.
FiReaNGeL notes research presented this morning at Penn State on the discovery of a new, ultra-small species of bacteria that has survived for more than 120,000 years within the ice of a Greenland glacier at a depth of nearly two miles. From the psu.edu announcement: "The microorganism's ability to persist in this low-temperature, high-pressure, reduced-oxygen, and nutrient-poor habitat makes it particularly useful for studying how life, in general, can survive in a variety of extreme environments on Earth and possibly elsewhere in the solar system. This new species is among the ubiquitous, yet mysterious, ultra-small bacteria, which are so tiny that they are able to pass through microbiological filters. Called Chryseobacterium greenlandensis, the species is related genetically to certain bacteria found in fish, marine mud, and the roots of some plants."
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Bacteria Found Alive In Ice 120,000 Years Old

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  • by genner (694963) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:17PM (#23643905)
    Have another reason to point and laugh.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      My Lordship/Friend, Calvary greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am former Mrs Sikiratu Seki Adams, now Mrs Comfort Faith Adams, a widow to Late Saheed Baba Adams. I am 72years old, I am now a new Christian convert,suffering from long time cancer of the breast. From all indications, my condition is really deteriorating and is quite obvious that I may not live more than six months, because the cancer stage has gotten to a very severe stage. My late husband was killed during the Gulf war, and
    • by murky_lurker (780235) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:44PM (#23644273)
      Well, I guess that just about wraps it up for God.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)
        No, and that's not what he is saying.
        He is saying it's another piece of scientific evidence that shows that then literal translation of the most recent translation of the Bible is wrong.

        Of course anyone who actually studied the bible and it's actual history knows its a parable.

        FYI it's a very tiny number of believers that think the creation is literal.
        • by rhombic (140326) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:03PM (#23644509)

          FYI it's a very tiny number of believers that think the creation is literal.

          The Gallup poll [gallup.com] says otherwise. Average of '05, '06, & '07 polls indicated 31% of Americans believed that the bible is the "Actual word of God, to be taken literaly".

          ~100,000,000 people is not a very tiny number.

          • by geekoid (135745)
            Yes, it is a small number, compared to the 4 billion believers.

            Also, they are provable wrong.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              Are you saying there are 4 billion Christians? Is that true? I always imagined it was pretty evenly split between Christianity, Muslim, and Buddhism.
            • by rhombic (140326)

              Yes, it is a small number, compared to the 4 billion believers.

              If you want to tie other religions into it, the number of literal believers is going to go way way up. About 38% of your 4e9 believers are Muslim, and non-heretical Muslims believe the Qur'an (in the original Arabic) to be the literal word of God (as part of the Aqidah). As many of the older Jewish & Christian biblical stories are recounted in the Qur'an, I'd suggest that whether or not you consider 100 million people to be a tiny number, i

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by taylortbb (759869) *
            The thing is it's 31% of Americans. This isn't an anti-US flame, but the truth is the numbers are different in other countries. I would personally expect them to be much lower based on my observations from living in another country, though I readily admit I have no evidence to back this up.

            As an aside, not that statistics actually matter. There are too many ways to bias that final number, and I doubt anyone here would take the time to fully research a poll's methodology.
        • by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:07PM (#23644565)
          Well that certainly is convenient. I wonder why the bible has so many specific dates if its not literal. Anyways if you read any book that was filled with non-literal stories why would you believe any of it. Thats the exact same as trusting a known liar. If creation is just a metaphor then so is god, jesus and everything else in the bible. Either believe it all or none of it. I hate pick and choose believers. Too cowardly to abandon an ancient book yet too sensible to believe it.
           
            I'm sure i'll get modded down for bashing the religious folk. Before you do, re-read it and pretend i was talking about a religion you don't like such as satanism or .... wicca.
          • by RanCossack (1138431) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:12PM (#23644637)
            I've yet to hear a proof that there is no God that would not serve equally well to prove there is no DM when used in-character in D&D.
            • by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:26PM (#23644783)
              :/ you can't DISPROVE god.... but thats not the point, you can't PROVE god is. The burden of proof is on the religious....
               
                Also i could probably prove the DM exists in most D&D campaigns from the characters POV.... though i do like the analogy, it should replace cars on slashdot to represent the world. Nerdier than cars and if anything weird happened we could blame it on gnomes.
            • Off the top of my head, how about this one. When a cleric prays for regeneration of limbs god never responds. This is not always true in D&D.
            • You should take some logic courses. Which is why the burden of proof is NOT on "proving there is no God", but rather on "proving there is a God". Since the second is also a shaky proposition (up to now the number of evidence which stand even a slight scrutinies is equal to zero), ANY God's existence (Christian or not) stand to be forever on the SAME level as the existence of gnome, leprechauns, dragon, santa and unicorns. The difference is the number of people believing in all those things without having an
          • by geekoid (135745)
            No, you missed the point.

            I didn't say t was filled with non-literal stories, I am saying that the creation myth is just that.
            There are Many non-literal pieces, but not all of it.
            You don't understand interpretations and translation of ancient text.
            You don't need to believe all of it. Documentation during that period is poor, at best.

            "Thats the exact same as trusting a known liar."
            No, it's not. Not even close. You might as well said "Thats they exact same thing a banana wrench monkey."

            I am not a believer, but
            • I don't think i did or i still am haha. If a book was found to be wrong or misleading many times. Is poorly translated, filled with metaphor and poorly documented to begin with. Then why after seeing 20 things i know are wrong would i blindly trust other things in the book? I would count it as an unreliable source.... just like a known liar. Though i suppose the wording was a bit harsh. And i never thought you were religious, you said you studied its history which is really unlikely for a religious person t
            • Thats they exact same thing a banana wrench monkey
              I am tempted to make that my new signature.

              It has a certain dada [wikipedia.org] quality.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Chris Burke (6130)
            Well that certainly is convenient. I wonder why the bible has so many specific dates if its not literal. Anyways if you read any book that was filled with non-literal stories why would you believe any of it. Thats the exact same as trusting a known liar. If creation is just a metaphor then so is god, jesus and everything else in the bible. Either believe it all or none of it. I hate pick and choose believers. Too cowardly to abandon an ancient book yet too sensible to believe it.

            Yeah, after all, why would y
          • Well that certainly is convenient. I wonder why the bible has so many specific dates if its not literal. Anyways if you read any book that was filled with non-literal stories why would you believe any of it. Thats the exact same as trusting a known liar. If creation is just a metaphor then so is god, jesus and everything else in the bible. Either believe it all or none of it. I hate pick and choose believers. Too cowardly to abandon an ancient book yet too sensible to believe it.

            "The Bible" is not a single entity - it is an accumulation of stories gathered over a thousand years or more. Your rant here is no less ignorant than the fundamentalist Evangelicals who think that Baby Jesus gave us the King James Version of the Bible. The creation story very well could be an ancient myth passed down from nomadic tribes 3,500 years ago while a person named Jesus actually lived 2,000 years ago. These are not mutually exclusive.

          • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:39PM (#23647643)

            I'm sure i'll get modded down for bashing the religious folk.
            You must be new here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      God put those bacteria there to test our faith
    • by Kingrames (858416)
      Clearly, this bacteria has traveled back through time - over and over again. ...you insensitive clod.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:18PM (#23643917)
    Further reports indicate that communication with the Penn State research station that unearthed the bacteria broke off shortly after the discovery. Another nearby research station is planning an expedition to the site, however, after discovering one of the Penn State sled dogs wandering into their camp.

    "This is a great discovery. There is nothing at all to worry about." said the oddly-behaving scientist who discovered the sled dog.

    • by Zymergy (803632) *
      Dr. Blair: [throwing a fit in the radio room] You guys think I'M crazy! Well, that's fine! Most of you don't know what's going on around here, but I'm damn well sure SOME of you do! You think that thing wanted to be an animal? No dogs make it a thousand miles through the cold! No, you don't understand! That thing wanted to be US!
      (later...)
      MacReady: [talking into tape recorder] Nobody... nobody trusts anybody now, and we're all very tired... there's nothing more I can do, just wait... RJ MacReady, helico
      • Dr. Dyer: Base...We've arrived at the camp. All of the men and dogs have been slaughtered. We have discovered a number of star-shaped mounds that Prof. Lake has begun to investigate. There appear to be strange beings buried under each one. Danforth and I are taking the airplane to scout over the mountains. Something seems to have gone that way. We'll be back soon. No worries.
    • Why do we assume that we discovered the bacteria, and not vice versa?

      Maybe we should introduce this bacteria to the Previously uncontacted Amazon Tribe. [slashdot.org]

  • 120,000?? (Score:4, Funny)

    by The_DoubleU (603071) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:21PM (#23643943)
    But..... the earth is only 6000 years old.
    Somebody is lying!
  • by techmuse (160085) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:24PM (#23643983)
    Sure, the bacteria survived. But how do you think it felt, being trapped in ice for 120,000 years? The first few years were probably ok. After that, it probably got really good at checkers. After the 1000th year, it proved that P=NP. At year 10,000, it dreamed of starting its own civilization. But then it started to go mad. Mad. MAD, I tell you. Now that it is free, the bacteria wants nothing but to seek revenge upon all other life forms for continuing to prosper and evolve while it was trapped beneath the ice. Buried alive. Buried alive...

    (Kaaaaahn....)
  • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:24PM (#23643993) Journal

    Hell, I've got bacteria in my refrigerator that's as old as that.

  • by tiedyejeremy (559815) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:28PM (#23644033) Homepage Journal
    I would hate to discover that this was a rare bacteria that produces greenhouse gasses... and will begin to reproduce rapidly now that it's free.
    • by Loibisch (964797) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:33PM (#23644097)
      Maybe it's a bacteria that EATS greenhouse gases and we're all saved (well, except for Greepeace who will be out of a job...)
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      No this is the bacteria that eats all things rubber and turns humans into stiffs. Fire! Fire!

      Extra points if you figure out where this is from.
      • by BKX (5066)
        So it's condom eating Viagra. Score?
  • Achoo! (Score:3, Funny)

    by cobyrne (118270) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:34PM (#23644113) Homepage

    Do we ...

    (Achoo!)

    *sniff*

    ... have any immunity?

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:37PM (#23644151)

    If you put the bacteria into a radioactive, poisonous desert with a rat, a cockroach, Cher and a lawyer, which would survive longest, and would it actually eat the others?

  • Okay. Here is what I propose in order to save "life [kind of] as we know it", before WE destroy it here first.

    Lets cultivate this little bug, put in on a nice british-silver-martini ice container, and start sprouting it throughout the solar system and beyond.

    By the time they reach Alpha Centauri, we probably will have nuked each other asses and made this rock too hot for anything living.

    This way, at least, we know we let some of our "evolutive" life er... "style", out there in the universe for the Flying Sp
    • by nguy (1207026)
      Lets cultivate this little bug, put in on a nice british-silver-martini ice container, and start sprouting it throughout the solar system and beyond.

      That's probably where it came from in the first place. And you don't need to wrap metal around it, big chunks of ice will do nicely.
  • 1) Granted the bacteria student status
    2) Gave them all accounts on PSUVM
    3) turned them loose on the internet
  • by WarJolt (990309) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:43PM (#23644259)

    This new species is among the ubiquitous, yet mysterious, ultra-small bacteria, which are so tiny that they are able to pass through microbiological filters.
    I'm always afraid when scientists get a hold of new species of bacteria. They always do something crazy with them like make rabbits glow.
    I can just see it now...

    Breaking news:
    Scientists have genetically engineered flesh-eating bacteria that is too small for scientists to detect. Drinking from your faucet is in advised as no filter can filter them out. Symptoms include explosive diarrhea then your eyeballs will fall out.
    • You had me up until the symptoms.

      As per regular medical verbiage, it should go like this:

      "Symptoms include increased stress, mild headaches, upset stomache, an eye tick, itchy skin and vague unusual objects seen out of the corner of your eyes. Some or all of these symptoms may become apparent. After this, the symptoms rapidly move to paranoia and hysteria, followed by a complete collapse of all body tissue. The bacteria can travel through almost any substance, including air and lead."
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      Any sufficiently complex theory as to the end of man-kind involves ED (explosive diarrhea not erectile dysfunction).
  • by vivek7006 (585218) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:49PM (#23644349) Homepage
    He wants his ice-cream back
  • by eieken (635333) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:53PM (#23644397) Homepage
    To pass through a microbiological filter, how did they find it? The article states how they study the bacteria, but how did they know to process this one specific piece of ice for ancient bacteria? Were they just going through thousands of tons of ancient ice core and happened upon it by accident?
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      Were they just going through thousands of tons of ancient ice core and happened upon it by accident?

      No, that would be ridiculous.

      They probably just studied this one ice core that they had, and found bacteria in it. Which would imply that the ice is simply stuffed with bacteria, so it really wasn't much of an accident at all. Which is hardly surprising, since in our modern world it is nearly impossible to find a surface that isn't replete with bacteria.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RockDoctor (15477)

      To pass through a microbiological filter, how did they find it?

      Most likely they were examining part of the core and they "slabbed" it for ease of handling and recording. Core comes out of the ground as cylinders, so all faces are curved, and that makes it hard to examine, measure and photograph (looking for dust bands, flow lines etc). So SOP is to cut the core along a chord (leaving two unequal segments) and then to cut the larger segment into two equal halves. Typically (for rock cores, in the oil industr

  • How do they know ? Did they ask it when it's birthday was ? Cut one in half and count the rings ??
  • by kingmundi (54911) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:54PM (#23644407)

    Same exact text, but with a picture, from physorg.

    http://www.physorg.com/news131712233.html [physorg.com]

  • the species is related genetically to certain bacteria found in fish, marine mud, and the roots of some plants
    I'm not surprised it was found in Marine mud; those guys' boots get really dirty after all that traipsing around. There must be all kinds of bacteria in that muck!
  • Phoenix (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lilfields (961485) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:14PM (#23644669) Homepage
    When I first read the headline I was hoping it was the a "life on Mars" discovery from the Phoenix...article doesn't deliver...

    Though I do wonder if this has implications for the Mars mission?
  • the bacteria "knew" the ice was gonna start melting some day?

    if it didn't then what's the purpose of staying "alive" for 120000 years?
    • Re:so in some way (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pfhorrest (545131) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:33PM (#23646059) Homepage Journal

      the bacteria "knew" the ice was gonna start melting some day?

      if it didn't then what's the purpose of staying "alive" for 120000 years?
      Evolution is not teleological (which means "purposive" or "goal-oriented"). This bacterium happened to be able to survive long periods in the freezing cold due to some mutation or another. This would be a big evolutionary advantage because it could then live and reproduce in areas where most other things cannot.

      Some of these bacteria got frozen for 120,000 years. They weren't waiting for it to thaw out; they're just out there living in the cold regions where nothing else can live, and sticking it out even when it gets too cold for them.

      Analogously, imagine that there is some primitive tribe of humans with no knowledge of climatology, currently living in tropical or desert climes who, unbeknown to anyone, have a mutation which allows them to survive in hibernation in freezing cold temperatures, and then reawaken when it warms up again. They did not evolve this because they needed to survive freezing cold temperatures, they just have a genetic adaptation which is not disadvantageous, and might even correlate with some other adaptation which is advantageous. And because they live in warm climes, nobody knows they have this mutation.

      Then say someday we enter another great ice age, so cold that everybody on Earth dies out, except this tribe, who barely manages to live on for thousands of years, frozen in the ice, due to their mutation. And then eventually the ice age ends and the world gets nice and warm, these people thaw out and start living their lives again.

      Now imagine we're aliens watching this future Earth thaw out. We might ask, did these people know that an ice age was coming? No... they've probably never even heard of ice. So they certainly didn't know that the ice age they never expected was going to end eventually. So what's the purpose of them having this mutation that allowed them to stay "alive" frozen in the ice for thousands of years? The answer is that there was none; they didn't mean to have the mutation, and nobody meant for them to have the mutation, they just had it by chance, and as chance would have it it came in really handy when the whole world froze over and everybody but them died out, which is why they're still around for us to wonder about.

      Or in short: They didn't get the mutation so that they could survive. They survived because they had the mutation.
      • Evolution is not teleological (which means "purposive" or "goal-oriented").
        While evolution isn't, life is. It seems there are two purposes in every form of life:
        1) Spread your genetic material
        2) Don't die.

        It also seems that so long as goal #1 is being fufilled, #2 doesn't matter so much and can be considered a secondary objective. I predict /.ers will have long lives.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 0111 1110 (518466)

          While evolution isn't, life is. It seems there are two purposes in every form of life:
          1) Spread your genetic material
          2) Don't die.
          Someone is watching too much porn. I think you have those in the wrong order. I am alive and have no interest in either of those goals. But especially not #1. In fact just the opposite. I would much rather die than spread any of my genetic material.
  • by smbarbour (893880) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:49PM (#23645045)
    How will this discovery save our bananas?
  • Clearly the bacteria was waiting for the Nintendo Wii, but overshot the release date a little..
  • . . . only to die of gobal warming . . .
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @09:53AM (#23652519) Homepage Journal
    "The first ten million years were the worst, and the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline." - Marvin

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

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