Russian scientists bring Ice Age plant back from the dead

Scientists in Russia have gone Michael Crichton and brought something long dead back to the land of the living. The Russian team didn't regenerate a dinosaur. The team brought a rather beautiful Ice Age plant back from the dead. The plant is called Silene stenophylla and the long dead plant was regenerated after the discovery of an Ice Age squirrel burrow in Siberia that had seeds and fruit.

The Russian scientists dug the seeds out of the permafrost where it had been locked in ice for 30,000 years. Regeneration of the plant makes Silene stenophylla the oldest plant to ever be regenerated. Canadian researchers had previously regenerated significantly younger plants from seeds found in similar burrows.

According to the Russian team, the regenerated plant looks very similar to a modern version of the plant which still grows in the same area of North-Eastern Siberia. The squirrel burrow was discovered along the right bank of the lower Kolyma River where the sediments date back over 30,000 years. The Russian team calls the squirrel burrows natural cryobanks.

"The squirrels dug the frozen ground to build their burrows, which are about the size of a soccer ball, putting in hay first and then animal fur for a perfect storage chamber," said Stanislav Gubin, one of the authors of the study, who spent years rummaging through the area for squirrel burrows. "It's a natural cryobank."

[via Guardian]