The oldest living thing in the world: These actinobacteria, recovered from the subterranean brrrrr-osphere that is Siberian permafrost, are estimated to be 500,000 years old. While many ancient microbes have been revived from ancient dormant states, these bacterial cells have been continuously living for half a million years. It’s known that the bacteria aren’t mobile in the frozen Earth, so by radioactively dating the layers of soil around the microbes, scientists were able to estimate their age.
Unable to divide and reproduce, these microbes were shown to be actively repairing their DNA despite the frigid temperatures, their enzymes uniquely adapted to an environment that would mean certain death for perhaps every other creature on Earth. While not growing, moving, or reproducing, this sort of cryostasis counts as living if you ask me (and the scientists who study them).
What do you think this means for the possibility of life on other planets?