Russian scientists have had quite a year, dwarfing anything American scientists are coming up with big time. Now, just a week after succeeding in drilling into the pristine waters of Lake Vostok in Antarctica, scientists have pulled off another remarkable achievement a little closer to home. They were able to recover fruit and seeds from a burrow in the Siberian permafrost, most likely a stow-away for an Ice Age-era squirrel. The recovered seeds have been buried in the permafrost for over 30,000 years. However, that didn’t stop Russian scientists from regenerating the Ice Age plants. The Silene stenophylla is now the oldest plant ever regenerated, and it’s not just alive, but flourishing, complete with flowers and seeds. Basically, it is growing as if the 30,000 years of being confined to an icy burrow never happened.
The big news here is the implications. Russian scientists are very excited about this because it proves that ice can conserve things for thousands of years. And, in a Jurassic Park-esque prediction, scientists believe it is possible that the same investigative techniques could lead to the possibility of regenerating not just plants but Ice Age mammals as well. And yes, he said it. Stanislaw Gubin, a main player in the study, elaborated on the incredible achievement:
“If we are lucky, we can find some frozen squirrel tissue. And this path could lead us all the way to mammoth.”
The race is on, though. Japanese scientists are already searching the area for mammoth remains. Who will get to frozen animal tissue first?
I’d put my money on the Russians the way things are going in recent months.