And speaking of scary things that have the ability to wipe out entire populations, an Anthrax outbreak in a remote area of Siberia caused villagers quite the scare. Although numerous people were infected, only one person was killed, but the virus also spread to more than 2,000 of the area’s reindeer.
Researchers determined that the cause of the outbreak was the melting permafrost, which had infected reindeer carcasses buried beneath it from decades ago. The melting ice not only caused the spores to return to the air but also got into the town’s groundwater by seeping into the soil. Not nice at all.
While the Pithovirus may not affect humans, the virus that they dug up from the permafrost in Russia in the early 90s most definitely can. Researchers found bodies covered in markings that resembled the effects of Smallpox, and it’s no wonder, as that area did have an epidemic of the deadly disease in the 1890s.
And it’s not just viruses that can survive in the icy cold tundra; it’s bacteria, too, some as old as nearly 10 million years. Scientists worry that as the ice continues to melt away, more life-threatening diseases will emerge from beneath. It's kind of terrifying the more you think about it.
Ice acts as a protective seal for deadly viruses and bacteria, which can preserve these pathogens for millions of years until it melts and unleashes an outbreak on the unsuspecting human population that inhabits the area. This kind of disease is known as a “zombie” disease due to the fact it goes into a deep sleep for ages until it is awakened only to kill.
Often times before the advancements in society, the bodies of the dead who died from epidemics were simply buried in the woods. Now, the melting permafrost continues to expose these bodies and reintroduce these “zombie” pathogens into the environment.
Dozens of Seals
In Alaska, researchers stumbled upon an ancient burial site full of dozens of decaying seals. The bodies were found in the area of an old hunting cabin and were reportedly quickly decaying along with the melting ice.
One person on the team who found the seals said that their organs were “seeping out” of the corpses and that the area smelled like rotting fish for a good half-mile radius. But is that any surprise, considering they dated the bodies to be over 70 years old? The area was cleaned up and all of the remains were relocated (to somewhere less.... blatant.)
A Secret Military Base
Camp Century is an old military base in Greenland that is buried more than 20 feet below the icy ground. The site was built as a nuclear testing facility and to house U.S. army troops back in the 1960s but was abandoned in 1967.
The complex is located underground and consists of a series of interconnecting tunnels. The abandonment of the facility may have had something to do with the fact that it was built without the direct permission of the government in Denmark. Camp Century consisted of several housing units, a movie theatre, a store, and a hospital.