(WTRF) — Scientists are holding an ancient ice-age secret and are on the verge of cracking it open, according to reports from the NY Post.

A “zombie virus” has been found by French scientists that had been trapped under a frozen lake in Russia, and it has stirred fears of another pandemic.

Hidden for 50,000 years, the study, which awaits peer-review, warn of a plant, animal or human disease that could be disastrous. Jean-Marie Alempic, a microbiologist from the French National Centre for Scientific Research has led the team.

The preliminary paper explains that because of global warming, the permafrost – permanently frozen ground covering one-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere – has melted away. Due to this melting, the million-year-old organic matter that was trapped is entering our atmosphere and with it potentially harmful pathogens.

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The organic matter, the researchers state, is made of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) at have been dormant since prehistorical times.

Jean-Michel Claverie, a co-author of the study and professor at Aix-Marseille University, has issued a warning to the medical field concerning the lack of attention to this issue, especially after the original research done in 2014 and 2015, stated the NY Post.

Scientists have revived a few of the “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost, in order to study them. The old one they have found, they have named “Pandoravirus yedoma” after the mythological character Pandora, whose curiosity led her to open a box of trouble.

The Pandoravirus yedoma is 48,500 years old, which is a record age for a frozen virus that is viable enough to potentially infect other organisms. The previous record was held by a 30,000-year-old virus that was extracted in 2013 by the same team of scientists.

Pandoravirus yedoma is one of 13 viruses that were featured in the study that separated each by their own genome. Each specimen was found in different places ranging from the bottom of a lake in Yakutia, Russia, from the fur of a mammoth, to the intestines of a Siberian wolf.

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These now healthy strains of live zombie virus cultures pose a potential infectious threat and suggest that pandemics like Covid-19 will be more prevalent.

The scientists warn in their paper, that the risk of these ancient viruses returning into circulation is high. They are concerned that the released carbon dioxide and methane from the thawing also adds to the greenhouse effect and will further increase the melting of the ice layers.

The possibility that more of these viruses will be found is high.

The research is on-going to determine the level of risk and infectiousness when environmental factors come into play, such as light, heat, and oxygen.

In June 2021, “zombie worms” were found by Russian scientists in the Arctic. The worms had been frozen for 24,000 years.