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Professors Russell H. Vreeland and William D. Rosenzweig say they have awakened a 250-million old bacteria found inside a salt crystal retrieved from deep underground in New Mexico. The bacteria was identified as a strain of Bacillus and a relative of another salt-loving bacteria, B. marisomortui. The findings, published in yesterday's Nature, easily surpass all previous longevity records for organisms revived from apparent suspended animation. The discovery has captured the imaginations of the press and the scientific community, and possibly lends support to those who argue that life fell to earth after drifting across space for countless millennia. There are also skeptics, of course, including those who argue that the bacteria the scientists grew in the lab were simply contemporary microbes that somehow got into their sample.
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