Mad scientists in France saw no real issue with awakening a 30,000-year-old virus from Siberian permafrost this week, even when they admitted that after it thawed, it became infectious once again. Sounds very chill.
Not only is the virus infectious, it's also huge. Still, nothing to see here.
Called Pithovirus sibericum, it belongs to a class of giant viruses that were discovered 10 years ago.
These are all so large that, unlike other viruses, they can be seen under a microscope. And this one, measuring 1.5 micrometres in length, is the biggest that has ever been found.
Though the scientists behind the study claim this isn't something worth reacting to, that it's no big deal, don't panic, it's mostly because we apparently have other, bigger issues to absolutely lose our heads over.
Professor Jean-Michel Claverie of the University of Aix-Marseille in all likelihood was smoking a chocolate cigarette when he told the BBC:
"It is a recipe for disaster. If you start having industrial explorations, people will start to move around the deep permafrost layers. Through mining and drilling, those old layers will be penetrated and this is where the danger is coming from."
He told BBC News that ancient strains of the smallpox virus, which was declared eradicated 30 years ago, could pose a risk.
"If it is true that these viruses survive in the same way those amoeba viruses survive, then smallpox is not eradicated from the planet - only the surface," he said.
Chalk it up to global warming. The team working near the East Siberian Sea worried that the continual thawing of permafrost could unleash a number more viruses. So let's dial that one back a smidge.
[Image via BBC]