Scientists Revive 1,500-Year-Old Life Form
Moss dating back to Roman Empire easily returns to life
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2014 4:07 PM CDT
A scientist walks along Roosevelt Island, Antarctica.   (AP Photo/Nancy Bertler)

(Newser) – Have a craving for 1,500-year-old moss? Just dig some up from Antarctic permafrost, expose it to light and healthy temperatures, and presto, you've got moss, National Geographic reports. Scientists from Britain did just that, marking the first time a multicellular organism that old has regenerated so easily. In Current Biology, the scientists say they cut a 4.5-foot, frozen core from a moss bank on an Antarctic island, took it to their lab, gave it warmth and light, and it began sprouting green fuzz in about three weeks.

Why care? Because mosses are important players in the world's ecosystems and store a lot of carbon, particularly in northern regions, Nature World News reports. "If they can survive in this way, then recolonization following an ice age ... would be a lot easier than migrating trans-oceanic distances from warmer regions," says study co-author Peter Convey. "It also maintains diversity" in areas that ice would otherwise wipe "clean of life." Next up, a Canadian scientist hopes to break the frozen-moss record by retrieving 50,000-year-old moss from Baffin Island. (A 32,000-year-old flower has been regenerated before, but it was cloned from a seed and grown in a laboratory.)

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Showing 3 of 34 comments
Mar 18, 2014 10:03 AM CDT
That wasn't just "any" moss, that was "zombie" moss. Put to rest centuries ago by European monks in order to stop the Plague. And now it has been released once again.
Mar 18, 2014 5:59 AM CDT
A proof indicator that the earth was warmer 1500 years ago than it is today.. at least in that region.
Mar 17, 2014 9:26 PM CDT
It would have died if it were Obama reviving it... obviously.