A paper out of Russia’s Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science describes a microscopic animal waking up after thousands of years in Siberian permafrost eleven feet below the surface. After the tiny animal woke up, it reproduced by cloning itself.
The animal, a bdelloid rotifer, is a microscopic animal found in freshwater habitats. They’re known for their ability to go into a desiccation-induced dormant state, explaining how they survived. In essence, they dry themselves out, similar to tardigrades.
An easy way of turning this into fiction would be introducing cryopreservation. One of the main issues with cryo is ice crystals—any water left inside cells could puncture cell membranes or organelles. Both tardigrades and bdelloid rotifers could provide clues about effectively removing all moisture from cells.
Another direction—what modern scientists found a teenage human ancestor that could go into a dried-out dormant state? The discovery of a completely frozen ancestor would make waves, and scientists go to great lengths to keep it frozen for study.
But a cyber-attack by a foreign enemy shuts down the refrigeration (like how the United States shut down Iran’s nuclear program), thawing out the specimen, and he wakes up. Have you seen Encino Man?
It would be a young adult novel. The main character is an adolescent boy whose father, a scientist, is obsessed with work. The human ancestor is hiding in the dad’s trunk and comes into the house for warmth, where he’s found by the son.
The story could play out similar to Elf—they’re best friends, providing a contrast to the father’s overbearing discipline. The ancestor is looking for his family, believing they might still be alive—communication is difficult without a shared language, and he gets his point across with “cave” drawings.
The opponent could be the government agency looking for the human ancestor and inept foreign agents, thrown in for comedic relief—none of them realize the ancestor woke up.
In the end, the scientist learns what it means to be a loving father and saves the ancestor and his son from being taken away by the government. The ancestor and the scientist work together and don’t find his family but find a descendant who has the same genetic trait, opening the door for cryopreservation.