Scientists Wake Up Ancient Viruses Unknown to Medicine

There exists on our planet an entire, hidden
world that has laid dormant for eons… but this world full of strange organisms from
prehistoric times is slumbering no more. As global warming threatens the world’s ice
masses, some scientists have warned that sleeping in that same ice, completely isolated from
the rest of the world for tens of thousands of years, could lurk deadly killers just waiting
to be unleashed. In a quest to understand the potential threat,
science has now discovered some of these ancient threats- and some were completely unknown
to science until now. High up in the Tibetan mountains, scientists
have labored to drill into some of the oldest, and most pristine ice on earth for years,
and in doing so brought back ice core samples that date back thousands and thousands of
years. Two of those samples predate the earliest
known human civilization by a whopping 11,000 years. Trapped within the ice lurks a sampling of
the microscopic world present at the time the ice was formed. While the total biomass of trapped microbial
life is vanishingly small- far less than sea water- scientists have refined techniques
to identify what life exists within that ancient ice. What they’ve discovered has been nothing short
of revolutionary for science. The two samples were collected in 1992 and
2015, and while the ice was untouched for thousands of years, upon being removed the
exterior was immediately contaminated with modern microbial life. For years these icy cores were kept in frozen
storage, the contents within kept pristine thanks to their icy prison. Recently scientists discovered a way to at
last melt the cores while eliminating any chance of modern contamination, allowing researchers
to peer into the microbial world of prehistory. Keeping the samples in a cold room, the scientists
used a sterilized band saw to saw away .2 inches (.5 centimeters) of the entire outer
layer of the ice core. Then they bathed the freshly sawed cores in
ethanol to melt away a further .2 inches of ice. Finally, they used sterile water to melt away
.2 more inches of ice. After losing over half an inch (1.5 cm) of
ice, the cores were finally free of modern contaminants, and when scientists peered into
their microscopes they found a veritable ice age microbial Jurassic Park waiting for them. Investigating the two ice cores, scientists
found 33 different groups of viruses, with hundreds of individual members of each. Of these groups of viruses though the greatest
discovery was the fact that a whopping 28 of them were completely unknown to scientists
until now! Forebodingly, in a follow up interview one
researcher stated that humanity is far from having sampled even the majority of estimated
virus groups still alive in frozen ice around the world today, meaning there are more viruses
lurking, waiting for their chance to be free of their icy prison, then we ever dreamt of. Tibet is far from the only place on earth
that researchers are digging up ancient microbial life though, and in 2017 scientists made a
profound discovery when they brought up icy samples from the depths of a frozen Antarctic
lake. This lake had laid frozen for many thousands
of years, effectively cocooning its underwater environment from the outside world. There scientists discovered a microbe that
they hope may answer the ultimate question about viruses: did viruses evolve as a unique
form of life, or did they arise as a parasitic life form that could exist only by infecting
healthy cells? The question is a tricky one to answer, and
scientists aren’t even sure that viruses are truly alive anyways. That’s because every living thing on the earth
is made up of cells, except for viruses. Viruses are in essence nothing more than a
piece of genetic material encased in a hard shell that has only a single function: infect
healthy cells and use the cell’s energy resources to replicate. While at first glance that seems like the
definition of a living organism-uses energy and is able to replicate- the pure simplicity
of the virus leaves scientists split on the question of them being alive or not. It has even been theorized that viruses are
nothing more than the descendants of malfunctioning nanomachines made by aliens and dispersed
into the universe billions of years ago. The theory makes some sense, as a specific
type of nanomachine known as a Von Neumann probe would be able to visit every star system
in the galaxy in just a few tens of thousands of years, compared to the millions or more
it would take using traditional ships full of aliens. That’s because the Von Neumann probe has a
unique ability that is eerily similar to that of a virus- it is able to use matter it encounters
to create a copy of itself, and it does so exponentially. One makes a perfect copy, then those two make
two copies, those four now make another four copies, so on and so on- in a very short amount
of time you could have millions of these probes being sent to every corner of the galaxy. Perhaps then, viruses are a form of alien
Von Neumann probe, but not one designed to explore the galaxy but rather to create life. Again, the theory does make some sort of sense,
as scientists are still unable to explain how the basic building blocks of life came
together to actually start life here on earth- and yet it is known that at the very first
moment life was possible on earth, it sprung into existence. That is a rather astonishing coincidence. It could be that ancient alien viruses were
programmed to put those basic building blocks together. If you think this is an outlandish supposition,
then you should know that modern gene editing techniques use hijacked viruses to modify
DNA directly. Perhaps its possible a sufficiently advanced
civilization could have created artificial viruses to build DNA in the first place, and
then simply seeded the galaxy with it, letting the machines go to work, and life springing
into existence where it was able to survive its environment. If these original alien viruses were also
made of small bits of genetic material, and weren’t completely artificial, then perhaps
evolution affected these original viruses in unexpected ways, leading to the evolution
of all the modern viruses in our world today. This is just a theory of course, and there’s
no proof that aliens really did seed the galaxy with viruses to help grow life. What isn’t theory though is the plausibility
of these ancient viruses being a deadly threat to life today. Because viruses aren’t truly alive in the
sense that we understand it, they are able to survive their icy imprisonment, and scientists
were shocked when a 30,000 year old virus discovered in Siberia not only awoke, but
began infecting healthy, modern cells. This mega-virus, so named because it is many
times the size of what scientists thought was the biggest virus, infects amoebas. Once a victim has been found, the virus does
much as any other virus, uses the amoeba to create more of its own kind, eventually destroying
the amoeba. While this particular virus is incapable of
infecting humans, the realization that a 30,000 year old virus could be woken up and infect
modern life was a sobering one for scientists. Before you fly into a full-blown panic and
start building your doomsday bunker, it’s important to know that viruses are highly
specialized things, which means it can be difficult to impossible for a virus to infect
a host it hasn’t evolved to attack. The one benefit we have against these prehistoric
viruses is that many of these viruses weren’t around when there was a large population of
humans, meaning that the odds they evolved to attack human cells are not that great. So you’re likely safe from the effects of
these ancient viruses. Except you also might not and the entire world
could be wiped out by an ancient superbug literally any day now. Listen, we hate to throw an Uno reverse card
at you, but viruses also happen to be one of the fastest evolving life forms- if they
are in fact even alive- in existence today. The HIV virus for instance is the fastest
evolving entity known, and while it reproduces very sloppily and accumulates a great deal
of genetic mutations as it does so, it also reproduces at a rate of billions of copies
of itself every day. You really only need one good copy that randomly
mutates to affect humans for a virus to become a global pandemic. Then of course there’s also the fact that
scientists fear as the world melts, ancient strands of current diseases could go on a
global comeback tour. Since we haven’t been exposed to these diseases
for thousands of years, modern humans would have virtually no defenses against these microbial
invaders. Even if a vaccine were to be developed, well
the Karens of the world would likely claim it causes autism and humans would die anyways. Of course, since global warming is just a
giant hoax perpetrated by Big Science to sell more umbrellas, we don’t really have to worry
about any ancient viruses coming back to life. Hey, now that you made it through that video,
maybe you’d like to enjoy another great vid- you know, before ancient alien viruses turn
us all into Resident Evil Tyrants. Why not check out this video over here, or
maybe instead check this one out instead! Either way, you can’t lose, so click now before
you’re a genetic mutant!

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