Return…from Extinction!

The latest news from Siberia is that Russian scientists appear to have grown an extinct plant called the narrow-leafed campion using 31,800 year-old seeds buried by ancient squirrels.

An Extinct Plant…Brought back to Life?

The reviving of the Narrow-Leafed Campion is just the latest in a series of ancient genetic breakthroughs, including the sequencing of Neanderthal DNA. Here’s more on this reviving of an extinct plant from The New York Times:

Living plants have been generated from the fruit of a little arctic flower, the narrow-leafed campion, that died 32,000 years ago, a team of Russian scientists reports. The fruit was stored by an arctic ground squirrel in its burrow on the tundra of northeastern Siberia and lay permanently frozen until excavated by scientists a few years ago.

This would be the oldest plant by far that has ever been grown from ancient tissue. The present record is held by a date palm grown from a seed some 2,000 years old that was recovered from the ancient fortress of Masada in Israel.

Seeds and certain cells can last a long term under the right conditions, but many claims of extreme longevity have failed on closer examination, and biologists are likely to greet this claim, too, with reserve until it can be independently confirmed…

(See The New York Times for the rest on the reviving of this extinct plant)

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