Mar 10, 2014

Q.1257

In March 2014, a team at the Aix-Marseille University, France announced the discovery of a species of virus, which they named 'Pithovirus sibericum'. 'Sibericum', because it was found in a dormant state in a sample of soil taken from the Siberian permafrost, after which it was revived and found to infect an amoeba.

The prefix 'pitho-' comes from the Greek name of large containers. It is apt because this 'giantvirus' has a large body which is largely empty, it has a 'cork'-like structure at an opening, and as the French team leaders joked, they had to put in a reference to something. What is this something, which is also what such containers typically held?

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This day last year: Q.892

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