photo by Konstantinov S.A. (Skonstantinov09 on Wikipedia Commons)

Russian scientists have succeeded in regenerating an ice age plant from fruit tissue found frozen in the Siberian permafrost.

A nest of Arctic squirrels containing fruit and seeds was discovered over 30 meters (100ft) underground, its contents frozen for around 32,000 years.

Scientists managed to germinate an ice-age plant, similar to chickweed, from the ancient seeds.


From the Guardian:

The experiment proves that permafrost serves as a natural depository for ancient life forms, said the Russian researchers, who published their findings in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

The burrows explored by the Russian scientists are located in layers of permafrost which also contain the remains of wooly mammoths and rhinoceros, as well as ancient bison, horses and deer.

Canadian paleontologist Grant Zazula is quoted in a report by CBC:

The permafrost across the Arctic is this treasure trove of ancient life, and not just extinct ancient life that we think of as fossils, but also viable ancient life that, given the right circumstances, can come back to life.