For the first time, we showed the ability of protozoa of different macrotaxons to survive in the state of cryptobiosis for a long time, under conditions of subzero temperatures, hypoxia, and lack of accessible water. Studying communities of viable paleoorganisms gives us a unique chance to make progress in understanding the mechanisms of psy-chrophily, cryoanabiosis and cryptobiosis in general, and to examine the phenomenon of survival in the cryosphere for a geologically significant period.

Acknowledgements We would like to thank Dr. A.V. Goodkov (Institute of Cytology RAS) and Dr. A.O. Smurov (Zoological Institute RAS) for cooperation in some of the taxonomical studies. We are grateful to Dr. G.A. Semenova (Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics RAS) and L.V. Chistyakova (Biological Research Institute of St. Petersburg State University, Russia) for their collaboration and the help in preparing the TEM micrographs. Special thanks to Dr. S.V. Gubin (Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science RAS) for collecting the material, giving site information and friendly cooperation. The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR grants no. 05-04-48180, 06-04-49288 and 08-04-00244).

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