Oh, science–what can’t you do? Answer the deeper questions that plague the human psyche, probably, but who gives a shit about that? Anyway, strike another mark in science’s “cool” column, because some Russian researchers (not the ones who unleashed ancient horrors from beyond the stars) have grown an ancient plant–the oldest grown so far.
Living plants have been generated from the fruit of a little arctic flower, the narrow-leafed campion, that died 32,000 years ago, a team of Russian scientists reports. The fruit was stored by an arctic ground squirrel in its burrow on the tundra of northeastern Siberia and lay permanently frozen until excavated by scientists a few years ago.
But where did they acquire the seeds for this Crichtonesque science project? You guessed it–squirrels:
The Russian researchers excavated ancient squirrel burrows exposed on the bank of the lower Kolyma River, an area thronged with mammoth and woolly rhinoceroses during the last ice age. Soon after being dug, the burrows were sealed with windblown earth, buried under 125 feet of sediment and permanently frozen at minus 7 degrees Celsius.
These conditions were apparently just right for preserving the DNA material that the scientists used to grow the plants. But despite a firm radiocarbon date, some scientists are skeptical; mostly because they’ve been burned in the past (King Tut’s Brand Oatmeal was apparently a hoax).
But really, the best part of this whole experiment is undoubtedly the promise of some of that sweet caveman chronic. Because everyone knows that those caveman had the illest stash.