French scientists are celebrating after successfully revitalizing an ancient virus that had been lying dormant for 30,000 years in Siberian permafrost, according to the BBC.
Measuring 1.5 micrometers in length, the Pithovirus sibericum strain is the largest virus to ever be discovered.
“This is the first time we’ve seen a virus that’s still infectious after this length of time,” said Professor Jean-Michel Claverie, from the National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) at the University of Aix-Marseille in France.
Researchers say the contagion does not pose a danger to humans or animals; rather, it specializes in attacking single-cell amoebas.
“It comes into the cell, multiplies and finally kills the cell. It is able to kill the amoeba — but it won’t infect a human cell,” said CNRS’s Dr. Chantal Abergel.
However, experts admit other potentially harmful viruses could reactivate and spread if more frozen ground becomes exposed from increasing global temperatures.