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Scientists Resurrect Flowers from Prehistoric Seeds

An 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.

Russian scientists say they have grown plants from fruits that are nearly 32,000-years-old.

If confirmed, this would be the oldest plant ever to be resurrected and suggests a new avenue for research into prehistoric life.

The fruits, from the campion plant, were found in a burrow in the Russian tundra, on the banks of the Kolyma River, frozen and sealed beneath 38 meters of rock and ice. They were stored there by a squirrel, along with more than 600,000 ancient seeds and fruits.

The scientists extracted cells from the fruits' placenta, the plant part that grows the seeds, and cultivated them to generate new seeds. Several years later, those seeds have grown into brand-new, ancient flowering plants.

The prehistoric campion looks very similar to its modern descendants, but with wider leaves.

The Russian team used carbon dating to determine the age of the fruits, but further research to confirm their findings is likely.

Scientists in the past have made similar claims - later proven false - of getting blooms from seeds many thousands of years old. In one instance, the seeds turned out to be modern ones that had infiltrated the ancient sample site.

The report was published in this week's issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States. The research team was led by Svetlana Yashina and David Gilichinsky.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.


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