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The oldest living thing has been discovered in the form of 600,000-year-old bacteria extracted from ice cores, scientists claim.
The finding gives hope that if Mars or other frigid worlds ever supported life similar to these ancient bacteria, they might be alive still.
The trick, the discovery suggests, is for organisms to keep some metabolism going over the millennia, so that they can keep their DNA in repair while awaiting a more favorable environment in which to multiply. The other approach, complete dormancy, would cause DNA to be damaged and perhaps destroyed over such long periods of time.
The scientists isolated long chains of active DNA from the bacteria....