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Life From The Ice Age…

Well, Researchers have managed to grow a plant from 32,000-year-old seeds, thus, breaking the previous record of antiquity! Earlier, the oldest seed from which a tree was born was 30,000 years old. A Team of Researchers recently came across the seeds of prehistoric Silene Stenophylla plants on the banks of River Kolyma in north-eastern Siberia, Russia. Radiocarbon dating has confirmed that some of the seeds were originated from plants during the Ice Age, 32,000 years ago. Talking to the media, a senior Russian Official has said that the Researchers have found mature, as well as immature, seeds from the Permafrost Level, 124ft beneath the surface. According to the Official, bone fragments from prehistoric mammoths, bison and woolly rhinoceros have been found there, too…

It is to be noted that Permafrost is the layer that continuously remains below 0°C (or 32°F) for two or more years, located on land or under the ocean. Permafrost does not have to be the first layer that is on the ground. It can be from an inch to several miles deep under the Earth’s surface. Permafrost, the special landform, is commonly found in the coldest parts of the world, including the North and South Poles. When ice, rock and sand particles freeze together, they turn into Permafrost. As the particles remain frozen for long, this particular landform becomes the source of various biological elements. Various prehistoric specimens are also found in Permafrost in form of fossil. The Zoologists and Botanists are of the opinion that some Siberian squirrels had stored these seeds 32,000 years ago! The animal also destroyed some of the mature seeds. Perhaps, the little creature instinctively tried to stop the germination from the seeds!

The prehistoric plant

However, some of the immature seeds obtained from Permafrost also had the potential to germinate. Scientists have grown new plants from those tissues in the laboratory. Silene Stenophylla is found in the Siberian region of Russia. Interestingly, the laboratory-born plant looks a little different from the flowers of this species. Within a year, the Silene Stellophila plant has also produced new seeds. Now, Scientists give a special importance to Permafrost in their research works.

Israeli Scientist Dr Elaine Solowey is optimistic about further works on Permafrost in the future. She believes that various plants, which may have been lost thousands of years ago, can be traced in this subterranean snow-soil. Earlier, she successfully grew a date plant from a 2,000-year-old seed. Scientists, like Dr Solowey, are giving a special emphasis on seed survival around the world for the sake of ecology. Norway’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault has emerged as a trove of frozen seeds. It is, basically, a fail-safe seed storage facility, built to stand the test of time, and the challenge of natural or man-made disasters.

Silene Stenophylla

Meanwhile, Peter H Raven – the Head of the Missouri Botanical Garden in the US – has expressed hope that men might also be able to survive in this fashion, once the scientists unravel the natural secret of freezing a seed for 32,000 years.

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