32K-Year-Old Plant Brought Back to Life

Arctic plant found by Russian scientists may be oldest ever revived
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2012 7:17 PM CST
This undated photo provided by the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences show a Sylene stenophylla plant regenerated from tissue of fossil fruit.   (AP Photo/HO, the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

(Newser) – A flower that last bloomed when saber-toothed cats roamed the Earth is once again alive and growing. Russian scientists say they've dug up remnants of a 32,000-year-old plant from Siberia's frozen wasteland and successfully cloned 36 more of them from its fruit tissue, the New York Times reports. Now comes the next stage: convincing a somewhat skeptical scientific community that the plant—by far the oldest ever revived—really dates back that far.

“It’s beyond the bounds of what we’d expect,” says a British expert on seeds. A Danish DNA expert calls it “plausible in principle" if permafrost froze those plant seeds and fruit from the start—but it all depends on the accuracy of the scientists' radio carbon dating: "If there’s something wrong there it can all fall part." Several other claims of astounding ancient finds, such as 10,000-year-old lupines and dinosaur DNA, have already been debunked. (Read more DNA stories.)

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