Listening en inglés Scientists resurrect Ice Age plant.

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Scientists resurrect Ice Age plant.

This plant is growing and flowering for the first time in over 30,000 years.

Hidden deep in the permafrost of Siberia scientist have discovered what once was an arctic squirrel’s lair. And in the lair, were the seeds and fruit of an extinct plant.

Now in a pioneering project scientists have brought the plant back to life. The plant is called Silene stenophylla and it is the oldest plant ever to be regenerated, beating the previous record of 2,000 years for date palm seeds that were found in Israel.

The experiment proves that permafrost acts a “freezer” for ancient life forms, the Russian researchers said, who published their findings in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" of the United States.

Svetlana Yashina, who led the regeneration effort, said the revived plant looks very similar to its modern version, which still grows in the same area in northeastern Siberia.

The Russian research team discovered the fruit and seeds after investigating dozens of fossil lairs hidden deep in ice deposits on the bank of the lower Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia. The sediments date back 30,000-32,000 years.

The arctic squirrels dug into the ground to build their lairs, which are about the size of a football. First they put in dried plant material and then animal fur, making a perfect storage chamber. Today these chambers are located about 38 metres below the present day surface and also contain the bones of large mammals, such as mammoths, wooly rhinoceros, bison, horse and deer.

The study has demonstrated that tissue can survive deep in the ice for tens of thousands of years, opening the way to the possible resurrection of Ice Age mammals, a research team member said.

Japanese scientists are already searching in the same area for mammoth remains, but the Russian research team hope to be the first to find some frozen animal tissue that could be used for regeneration.

Today mankind is doing the same as that that ancient squirrel. In the arctic, on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen there is the The Svalbard Global Seed Vault which is buried deep in the permafrost and is always at –18 degrees Celsius. Opened in 2009 the vault is designed to protect against global disasters, both human and natural, and preserve different varieties of seeds for future use.

A total, 268,000 different varieties of wheat, maize, rice and other crop species from Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Syria, have already  deposited their seeds in the seed bank.

Many countries have their own seed banks but there is always a danger that the seeds may be lost. In 2006, a typhoon, for example, wiped out the Philippines's national rice seed repository.


permafrost > permahielo

squirrel’s lair  > madriguera de una ardilla.

pioneering > pionero

brought the plant back to life.  (phrasal verb: bring back) > resucitar

beating (verb: beat) ganar, vencer

dug (verb: dig) > cavar

fur > pelo de un animal, pelaje

hope > esperar. Pincha para ver la entrada hope, expect y wait

tissue can survive deep in the ice  > tejidos

mankind is doing the same as > humanidad

typhoon > tifón

wiped out (phrasal verb: wipe out) exterminar

Curso ingles online por Roy Robinson

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