Mollivirus sibericum, which translates to "soft virus from Siberia", is the fourth such 'giant virus' discovered this century. The same team of scientists discovered another of these, Pithovirus sibericum, last year, and Mollivirus sibericum was isolated from the same sample of permafrost.
These prehistoric viruses are called 'giant viruses' because they're visible by light microscopy, with lengths greater than half a micron - a thousandth of a millimetre. As bugs go, they're big.
If the idea that scientists are going to wake this thing up sounds a little disconcerting – and, to be honest, it's not altogether unlike the opening scenes of a plague disaster movie – don't worry. The researchers say they will only revive the virus if they can be certain it's not a threat to animals or humans.
Of course it sounds like the beginning of a movie like Outbreak, but the idea of reintroducing a 30,000-year-old thing back into society also sounds a lot like Encino Man.
The reanimating is meant to be held in the context of our warming Earth. Over time, those frozen Siberian tundras ain't going to be so frozen anymore and the Brendan Frasers of the virus world will reawaken without the help of Pauly Shore scientists.
So, that's terrifying.
But there's still little in the way of explanation as to why these researchers want to reanimate this ancient virus. Either they are just doing it to do it, or they are servants of Cthulhu and this is how they call him to come devour our world.
The whole thing reminds me of the massive plan to blow up the moon.