Russian scientists discovered the animal in the permafrost excavated with a drilling rig.
The tenacity of arctic wildlife is incredible. New species are discovered constantly and the remains of long forgotten species can still be found in the depths of the permafrost. Many are only recently accessible as technology improves and scientific teams can analyze their findings.
A team of Russian scientists discovered a microscopic animal called the bdelloid rotifers. The creature was found at the core of the frozen soil excavated from a drilling rig.
"Our report is the hardest proof as of today that multicellular animals could withstand tens of thousands of years in cryptobiosis, the state of almost completely arrested metabolism," said Stas Malavin, a researcher at the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Pushchino Scientific Center for Biological Research in Russia.
The creature has been discovered before but the previous research team believed that the rotifers could only survive for ten years when frozen. The Russian team used radiocarbon to date the soil they dug up from the earth and discovered that it was 24,000 years old.
Other animals have been revived after extensive periods in the permafrost, including small flowers and simple worms. People have long fantasized about reviving other animals that have been frozen, but their complex cell structure prevents them from being returned to the world.
"The takeaway is that a multicellular organism can be frozen and stored as such for thousands of years and then return back to life -- a dream of many fiction writers," Malavin said in the statement.
"Of course, the more complex the organism, the trickier it is to preserve it alive frozen and, for mammals, it's not currently possible. Yet, moving from a single-celled organism to an organism with a gut and brain, though microscopic, is a big step forward."
Once the rotifers were revived they were able to eat and reproduce. The scientists then froze rotifers to see if they could survive the process. They discovered that the rotifers were able to withstand the formation of ice crystals in their cells. This suggests that the creature has some mechanism that can can shield their cells and organs from harm at very low temperatures.