It’s green, it’s big, it’s alien and it’s not dangerous? A newly found virus named Pandoravirus after the Pandora’s Box myth about a container that holds all of the world's evil, was recently discovered by scientists in France. Measuring in at more than 400 nanometers in length, the virus is nearly double the size of the “Megavirus,” causing experts to question the current origins of life on earth.
The discovery, which was originally published in the July issue of the journal Science, confirmed the virus is 440 nanometers long, nearly four times larger than the majority of known viruses, most of which measure in at 100 nanometers (0.0001 millimeters). While its size may be large, French scientists claim the microorganism is harmless, according to a report from Weather.com. “This is not going to cause any kind of widespread and acute illness or epidemic or anything,” Eugene Koonin, a virus specialist and evolutionary biologist at the National Institute of Health, said.
According to research, scientists are unsure if the virus originated on earth or on a different planet as its structure is unlike any other known virus. Other theories consist of its formation occurring from a type of cell that is extinct due its genetic abnormality and unusual physical appearance. “Most of the Pandoravirus genes don't look like any genes in known databases, suggesting the viruses originated from a totally different primitive cellular lineage,” said researchers in a Science magazine article. “The tree of life may need to be redrawn to account for these new viruses.”
So far, researchers have only been able to obtain two specimens of the Pandoravirus. One was reportedly found off the coast of Chile and another in Melbourne, Australia. Researchers predicted that more of the viruses will be located in other locations in the near future.