New Giant Virus Found on Earth may have Ancient Extraterrestrial orign
A virus found underwater off the coast of Chile and in a pond in Australia is the biggest virus ever discovered – up to ten times the size of other viruses – and only six per cent of its genes resemble anything seen before on Earth, leading scientists to suggest that it may have come from another planet.
The virus, called Pandoravirus, is not thought to pose a risk to humans but is so big that it can be viewed under a regular microscope - its genetic code is twice the size of the Megavirus, which is the biggest virus previously found.
Dr Jean-Michel Claverie, scientist from Aix-Marseille University in France who found the virus, said: ‘We believe that these new Pandoraviruses have emerged from a new ancestral cellular type that no longer exists.’
Pandoravirus lacks the regular shape normally associated with viruses so researchers initially believed it was a type of bacterium. They placed the sample into an antibiotic solution to kill any bacteria present and then exposed it to amoebas knowing that if they died, there must be something else in the samples killing them. This is what occurred, proving that it was in fact a virus.