Plant grown from 30,000 year old seed. WARNING: Squirrel involved.

PleistoceneFrom POPSCI comes this story for your “Just Too Cool” file.

Russian Scientists Grow Pleistocene-Era Plants From Seeds Buried By Squirrels 30,000 Years Ago

On the frozen edge of the Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia, in an ancient pantry harboring seeds and other stores, an Arctic ground squirrel burrowed into the dirt and buried a : small, dark fruit from a flowering plant. The squirrel’s prize quickly froze in the cold ground and was preserved in permafrost, waiting to grow into a fully fledged flowering plant until it was unearthed again. After 30,000 years, it finally was. Scientists in Russia have now regenerated this Pleistocene plant, transplanting it into a pot in the lab. A year later, it grew forth and bore fruit.

The specimen is distinctly different from the modern-day version of Silene stenophylla, or narrow-leafed Campion. It suggests that the permafrost is a potential new source of ancient gene pools long believed to be extinct, scientists said.

The fruits were buried about 125 feet in undisturbed, never thawed permafrost sediments, nestled at roughly 19.4 degrees F (-7 C). Radiocarbon dating showed the fruits were 31,800 years old, give or take about 300 years. Seeds are incredible things, storing the embryo of a new plant and encasing it in protective material until conditions are right for it to germinate.


I guess we have Skrat to thank for this.


Now if we could only find some dinosaur DNA in a piece of amber.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. wanda says:

    Thank you little ice age squirrel. If we produce a dinosaur, could we train it to stomp down Pennsylvania Ave., and have it glare in the windows?

  2. pm125 says:

    Squirrels are crazy, busy (no pears left on neighbor’s tree two years in a row – or corn … not at all good for their lovability there ), now if only we could muster up some of their single-mindedness as to defending the only bastion of right reason in the world. Skrat won’t and 30,000 yrs. is too long to tarry.

  3. disco says:

    Nature finds a way…

  4. xsosdid says:

    Quick question: why is the life of a a 30,000 yr old flower a non-political issue, and the life of a human embryo a political one? Seems we should all be able to celebrate both.

  5. xsosdid says:

    oh and please let’s not reproduce any giant stone-age squirrels, ok?

  6. Maltese says:

    Cool that they resurrected this dormant plant!

    As to squirrels; I used to love them, now I am am squirrescidal!

    I have an old Victorian house, and as hard as we try to keep them out, they infest us. They are chewing trough our PVC pipes, causing many hundreds of dollars in damages. So, I bought a high-powered pellet-gun, and my son has been on a rampage to kill them, but the only one to kill one, so far, is my daughter!

    We have an older African American friend who harvests our pecans (we live in the south, with huge pecan trees), but also wants our squirrels. We have caught-and-released feral cats in our traps, but squirrels are for eating here!

    My son is dying to try squirrel: he has had just about anything in the dirt, under the sea, on the earth and in the air to eat, but squirrel he has not yet eaten, yet every boy should eat a squirrel at one point!

  7. rcg says:

    I am relieved that I am not the only one who thought of Scrat when I read this. If I was that Russian Scientist I would be wary walking through the park from now on.

  8. Tina in Ashburn says:

    And if that ancient squirrel is anything like the determined nut-planting squirrel that digs up my potted plants in the spring, THEY’D BETTER WATCH OUT. That tender plant is NOT SAFE. That squirrel is looking for that nut.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    Sorry, but I am against reviving ancient DNAs, as God allowed these to become extinct for a reason. I really do not want to be worried about Raptors when I am hiding with my fellow Christians in the caves of Nevada from the soldiers of the Star Chamber or something similar .

    And I love squirrels and sometimes, I feel I am Scrat! He is my favorite Ice-Age creature. What a fun series…Ah, the Golden Acorn in the Sky.

  10. GirlCanChant says:

    Scrat was the best part of Ice Age.

  11. ghp95134 says:

    Hmmmmm …. Well ~ I think it is Simbelmynë! The flower that grows on the burial mounds of the Kings of Rohan:

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