Fruit seeds stored away by squirrels more than 30,000 years ago and found in Siberian permafrost have been regenerated into full flowering plants by scientists in Russia.
The seeds of the herbaceous Silene stenophylla plant are far and away the most ancient plant material to have been brought back to life, said lead researchers Svetlana Yashina and David Gilichinsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The age of the flower was confirmed by radiocarbon dating at 31,800 years, passing the record for viable regeneration of ancient flora held at 2,000 years by date palm seeds found near the Dead Sea in Israel.
The latest findings could be a landmark in research of ancient biological material and highlight the importance of permafrost in the “search of an ancient genetic pool, that of pre-existing life, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the earth’s surface”, they wrote.
by Arthur Furrowfield