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Scientists Revive a Giant 30,000 Year Old Virus From Ice 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-saw-this-movie dept.
bmahersciwriter writes "It might be terrifying if we were amoebae. Instead, it's just fascinating. The virus, found in a hunk of Siberian ice, is huge, but also loosely packaged, which is strange says evolutionary biologist Jean-Michel Claverie: 'We thought it was a property of viruses that they pack DNA extremely tightly into the smallest particle possible, but this guy is 150 times less compacted than any bacteriophage [viruses that infect bacteria]. We don't understand anything anymore!'"
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Scientists Revive a Giant 30,000 Year Old Virus From Ice

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  • Re:I think I've... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xiver (13712) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:12PM (#46391779)
    If you like The Thing then read this. [clarkesworldmagazine.com] It is a short story from The Thing's point of view.
  • by Chas (5144) on Monday March 03, 2014 @08:00PM (#46392219) Homepage Journal

    It's possible that this one was warped by its environment.
    Another possibility is that we're looking at a sign of evolution here.

    It's possible that 30,000 years ago, the environment (and carriers) could support the existence of larger, loosely packed viruses.

    Then with the advance of medicine and sanitation (and possibly changes in climate), that behemoths like this simply weren't viable anymore. They were too fragile (or just too obviously large) to withstand the immune responses in healthier, cleaner hosts.

    As such, these oversized viruses died off the same way various megafauna did. Their ecological niche was either stressed (or closed). Thus the only survivors were smaller, more compact variants.

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