A while back we posted up a video purporting to show a woolly mammoth crossing a river in Siberia. That was a fairly obvious hoax. This, however, is not.
From this story in the (UK) Telegraph:
An entire flower from the Ice Age has been resurrected by Russian scientists in a pioneering experiment that could pave the way for the revival of other species including the mammoth. They say the Silene stenophylla is the oldest plant ever to be regenerated and is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds. The raw material for the project was fruit tissues from an Ice Age squirrel’s chamber, a burrow containing fruit and seeds that had been stuck in the Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years. The Russians said the experiment proves that permafrost serves as a natural depository for ancient life forms. They published their findings in Tuesday’s “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” of the United States.
_”We consider it essential to continue permafrost studies in search of an ancient genetic pool, that of pre-existing life, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the earth’s surface,” the scientists said in the article. Canadian researchers had earlier regenerated some significantly younger plants from seeds found in burrows. Svetlana Yashina of the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy Of Sciences, who led the regeneration effort, said the revived plant looked very similar to its modern version, which still grows in the same area in northeastern Siberia.
“It’s a very viable plant, and it adapts really well,” she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the Russian town of Pushchino where her lab is located. She voiced hope the team could continue its work and regenerate more plant species. The Russian research team recovered the fruit after investigating dozens of fossil burrows hidden in ice deposits on the right bank of the lower Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia, the sediments dating back 30,000-32,000 years.
The burrows were located 125 feet below the present surface in layers containing bones of large mammals, such as mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, bison, horse and deer. The group says the study has demonstrated that tissue can survive ice conservation for tens of thousands of years, opening the way to the possible resurrection of Ice Age mammals. “If we are lucky, we can find some frozen squirrel tissue,” Dr Gubin told The Associated Press. “And this path could lead us all the way to mammoth.” Japanese scientists are already searching in the same area for mammoth remains, but Dr Gubin voiced hope that the Russians will be the first to find some frozen animal tissue that could be used for regeneration. “It’s our land, we will try to get them first,” he said._
So maybe, just maybe, we’ll someday end up having that “best woolly mammoth caliber” discussion after all…