“There are things so incredible that it is impossible to believe in them, but there are no things so incredible that they cannot happen”
The study of the origin of viruses is very important in connection with the next global pandemic that has affected all of humanity. At the same time, in the past, viruses not only killed living cells, but also played a crucial role in the lateral transfer of genes between organisms, ensuring the biodiversity of life on Earth.
The study of the remnants of viruses that existed in the past, but are now extinct, is the branch of virology – paleovirology. At the same time, virologists and most paleontologists adhere to the dogma that ancient viruses (like modern ones) were extremely small and could not leave behind physical remains (microfossils). Therefore, to reconstruct the past, paleovirology studies endogenous fragments of ancient viruses in the genomes of modern organisms.
At the same time, modern knowledge about the evolution of the Earth’s biosphere is based primarily on material data obtained through paleontological research. Therefore, the biggest gap in the fossil record of the evolution of life is the lack of finds of microfossils of viruses in rocks.
“Paleovirology” is a new scientific idea that arose as a result of the study of virus-like microfossils in the community of ancient planktonic microorganisms. It points to the possibility of finding fossilized viruses even in the most ancient ecosystems of the Earth. Thanks to the development of modern paleontological research and the latest instrumental technologies for the study of inert and living matter, one can hope to find fossilized viruses in ecosystems of all geological periods, and trace their contribution to the evolution of the Earth’s biosphere. Thus, at the intersection of micropaleontology and virology, over time, a new science “Paleovirology” will inevitably form, which will fill the gap in the paleontological chronicle.