700-Year-Old Eggs Hatch
OKLAHOMA CITY - This discovery is more than 10 years in the making, but just recently it's been given life like never before in the world of science.
"The idea of taking dormant eggs and germinate them or hatch them out," said OU professor Dr. Larry Weider.
Resurrection Ecology, has taken something that can start from a decades-old speck and turned it into a community of shrimp-like life in pickle jars on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.
"This came from a single hatchling," said Weider. "Light and temperature for example, we can induce them to hatch."
For two summers, Weider, his students and other researchers from Oklahoma State traveled to Minnesota's South Center Lake.
"It was about 75 feet where we sampled so it was a little tricky," said Weider.
The team pulled from three feet of sediment, looking for dormant eggs, eggs of these asexual, cyclopic crustaceans called Daphnia Pulicaria, commonly known as water fleas.
For over a year students and researchers at OU and OSU sifted through mud in search of resting eggs the size of pepper flakes so they could hatch them into daphnia the size of rice grains.
"And it turned out in our case to be very fruitful."
They were fruitful in more ways than one. When the team tested for the age of the Daphnia eggs, they discovered the eggs were centuries old, dating back 600 to 700 years.
"We were all shocked," said Weider. "We have evidence that we can push that time frame back at least several more centuries."
Weider hopes that within the next year they will have the exact age of the eggs. Water Fleas can be found in just about every lake across the nation. But the researchers chose Minnesota because those lakes were formed by glaciers up to 11,000 years ago.