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New Giant Virus Discovered In Icy Siberian Tundra

Second Nexus

via Flickr user Yuri Samoilov

[DIGEST: Phys.org, News Bureau Illinois, Nature, LA Times, Vice]

Global warming will not only result in rising ocean levels, strange weather patterns and droughts. It could also expose us to dangerous prehistoric viral pathogens.

According to Phys.Org, rising temperatures enabled French researchers to recently unearth a 30,000-year-old virus in Siberia. The virus, with the ominous name of Mollivirus sibericum, is considered a “giant” among viruses. It measures more than 500 nanometers, which is roughly 0.0002 of an inch. Most viruses vary in size from 20 to 300 nanometers.  

Some scientists believe that these giant viruses may have provided the raw material for cellular life. Unlike smaller viruses, the giant viruses have a genetic complexity that is similar to that of single-celled organisms. This suggests that giant viruses may have been more complex organisms that eventually reduced genomes and adapted to become viral parasites.

Second Nexus
Model of a Virus via Flickr user Tom Thai

French researchers plan to revive the newly discovered M. sibericum virus in a single-cell amoeba, which is a typical target host for this type of virus, once they determine that the virus cannot cause disease in animals or humans. This isn’t the first time scientists have

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