World-first Perfectly Preserved Ice age bear found in Russia
In the Russian Arctic, the fully preserved remains of an Ice Age cave bear were discovered – the first specimen of the animal that has ever been identified with soft tissues.
The remarkable discovery was found in the Lyakhovsky Islands in the Far North of Russia Part of the Modern Siberian Islands, find was made by reindeer herders
Previously only the bones of the cave bears had been found, but this specimen even had its nose intact, according to a team of scientists from the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Yakutsk, Siberia.
The discovery is of “world importance,” a leading Russian expert on extinct Ice Age species said.
In a statement released by the university, scientist Lena Grigorieva said: “Today this is the first and only find of its kind — a whole bear carcass with soft tissues. It is completely preserved, with all internal organs in place including even its nose.
“Previously, only skulls and bones were found. This find is of great importance for the whole world.”
The adult animal was found by a group of reindeer herders, who then transferred the right to research the specimen to the NEFU, which is at the forefront of research into extinct woolly mammoths and rhinos.
According to the team, the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) is a prehistoric species or sub-species that lived in Eurasia in the Middle and Late Pleistocene period and became extinct some 15,000 years ago. Preliminary analysis suggests the bear is between 22,000 and 39,500 years old.
Maxim Cheprasov, the senior researcher from the Mammoth Museum laboratory in Yakutsk, said in the statement: “It is necessary to carry out radiocarbon analysis to determine the precise age of the bear.”
Scientists have not yet been able to visit the site of the discovery — the ancient carcass was found a long way from Yakutsk, which itself is more than 5,000 miles from Moscow.
Significant discoveries, including mammoths, woolly rhinos, Ice Age foal, several puppies, and cave lion cubs, have been made in Siberia in recent years as the permafrost melts.
Ancient mammoth ivory carving technology reconstructed by archaeologists
A team of archaeologists from Siberian Federal University and Novosibirsk State University provided a detailed reconstruction of a technology that was used to carve ornaments and sculptures from mammoth ivory.
The team studied a string of beads and an ancient animal figurine found at the Paleolithic site of Ust-Kova in Krasnoyarsk Territory. Over 20 thousand years ago its residents used drills, cutters, and even levelling blades.
The unusual features of some of the items showcased the mastery of the craftsmen. The new data obtained by the scientists will help study the relations between the residents of different Siberian sites.
The article about the study was published in the highly respected journal Archaeological Research in Asia.
The Ust-Kova site is located in Kezhemsky District of Krasnoyarsk Territory at the mouth of the Kova river.
Archaeologists from Krasnoyarsk have been working there since the middle of the 20th century, but the major part of the excavation work took place between 1980 and 2000.
Based on the results of radiocarbon dating, the site is considered to be over 20 thousand years old. Of all findings from Ust-Kova, scientists consider animal figurines the most interesting. They also found various ornaments and tools made from mammoth ivory. However, until recently the technology of their manufacture has been unknown.
“We studied several mammoth ivory items found at Ust-Kova: a mammoth figurine, a seal sculpture, and bracelets and beads of different sizes that were created around 24 thousand years ago.
Our group was supervised by Prof. L.V. Lbova, a PhD in History, from the Department of Archeology and Ethnography of Novosibirsk State University.
We conducted a detailed microscopic analysis of each object to identify the tools used in their manufacture by the markings they left,” said Prof. Nikolay Drozdov, a PhD in History, representing Siberian Federal University.
After processing the microscopic images of the mammoth figurine with DStretch, the team was able to reconstruct the ancient technology in every detail. The image showed markings that were left by different tools.
According to the scientists, at first, a craftsman had to break a mammoth tusk down into segments. After that smaller plates were turned into beads: the master cut them into rectangles and made a hole in the centre of each piece using a stone drill. Bigger parts were used to create animal sculptures.
To depict a mammoth, the craftsman outlined a head and legs with a levelling blade and then removed the excess of the bone with a cutter. After the figurine was finished, it was decorated with a pattern to imitate eyes and hair.
The team also analyzed the chemical composition of the findings. The scientists were especially interested in the traces of dark-red pigment on the surface of the sculpture. It turned out that ancient craftsmen used to paint many of their items with manganese and magnesium (presumably, they were extracted from salt rocks situated not far from the site).
The mammoth figurine was painted with red pigment on one side and with a black one on the other. In the mythology of the Ust-Kuva people, red was a symbol of life and black meant death.
The researchers also found several layers of pigment on the beads. They assumed that the ornaments had been in use for many years and had to be regularly repaired.
The study can help better understand the relationships between different tribes and territories. Now scientists will be able to compare tools from different sites by various parameters. This will show whether distant tribes were in contact with each other and also help identify individual styles of ancient master carvers.
A 14,000-year-old puppy, whose perfectly preserved body was found in Russia, munched on a woolly rhino for its last meal
Russian scientists in 2011 found a perfectly preserved Frozen Aged puppy in Siberia. Recently, while examining the 14,000-year-old wolf-dog’s stomach contents, researchers were stunned to find evidence of what could be one of the last woolly rhinos on Earth still in its prehistoric bowels.
“It’s completely unheard of,” professor of evolutionary genetics Love Dalen said. “I’m not aware of any frozen Ice Age carnivore where they have found pieces of tissue inside.”
Scientists originally found the furry canine at a dig site in Tumat, Siberia, and shortly afterward found a piece of yellow-haired tissue inside its stomach.
Experts initially believed that the tissue belonged to a cave lion, but after sharing the evidence with a resourceful team in Sweden, learned otherwise.
“We have a reference database and mitochondrial DNA from all mammals, so we checked the sequence data against that and the results that came back — it was an almost perfect match for woolly rhinoceros,” Dalen explained.
Dalen works at the Centre for Paleogenetics, which is a joint venture between Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History, so his team had access to both highly-detailed DNA databases and radiocarbon dating.
After Dalen and his colleagues were able to assess with the overwhelming likelihood that this half-digested tissue belonged to a woolly rhinoceros, they then radiocarbon dated it at around 14,400 years old.
“This puppy, we know already, has been dated to roughly 14,000 years ago,” said Dalen. “We also know that the woolly rhinoceros goes extinct 14,000 years ago. So, potentially, this puppy has eaten one of the last remaining woolly rhinos.”
Modern research has shown that the woolly mammoth’s extinction was partly due to severe climate change. As for how this lucky puppy got its paws on such a specimen, which is the same size as a modern-day white rhino that weighs nearly 8,000 pounds and stands six feet tall, remains largely unclear.
Indeed, Edana Lord, a Ph.D. student who co-authored a research paper studying the woolly rhino’s road to extinction, asserted that due to the rhino’s size it is impossible that the puppy killed the animal itself.
Additionally, experts were surprised to see that the rhino was left mostly undigested in the puppy’s stomach, leading Dalen to conclude that “this puppy must have died very shortly after eating the rhino.”
“We don’t know if it was a wolf, but if it was a wolf cub, maybe it came across a baby rhino that was dead,” Dalen hypothesized. “Or the (adult) wolf ate the baby rhino. Maybe as they were eating it, the mother rhino had her revenge.”
This wolf-pup is just one of a few amazing prehistoric canines specimens to be found in the last decade. In 2016, a miner in the Yukon region of Canada found a mummified 50,000-year-old wolf pup alongside a prehistoric caribou.
Then, in 2019, researchers found an 18,000-year-old wolf-dog hybrid perfectly preserved in the Siberian permafrost. They have since named that specimen “Dogor.”
Ultimately, researchers hope that this latest find can shed some more light on the last days of the woolly rhino — which are still being debated millennia later.
In Russia, in the Caucasus mountains, not far from the cities Tzelentzchik, Touapse, Novorossiysk and Sochi, there are hundreds of megalithic monuments.
The Russians call them dolmens. Russian and foreign archaeologists have not yet discovered their use. All these megalithic dolmens you see below in the pictures are dated from 10,000 years to 25,000 years ago, according to the website Kykeon. Other archaeologists put the age of these megalithic structures at 4000 to 6,000 years old.
Thousands of prehistoric megalithic monuments are known throughout the world. Some of the least known outside the former Soviet Union, however, are those in the Caucasus. These dolmens cover the Western Caucasus on both sides of the mountain ridge, in an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometers of Russia and Abkhazia.
The Caucasian dolmens represent a unique type of prehistoric architecture, built with precisely dressed cyclopic stone blocks.
The stones were, for example, shaped into 90-degree angles, to be used as corners or were curved to make a perfect circle. The monuments date between the end of the 4th millennium and the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C.
While generally unknown in the rest of Europe, these Russian megaliths are equal to the great megaliths of Europe in terms of age and quality of architecture but are still of an unknown origin.
The Caucasian dolmens represent a unique type of prehistoric architecture, built with precisely dressed large stone blocks. The stones were, for example, shaped into 90-degree angles, to be used as corners or were curved to make a circle.
In spite of the variety of Caucasian monuments, they show strong similarities with megaliths from different parts of Europe and Asia, like the Iberian Peninsula, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Israel, and India. A range of hypotheses has been put forward to explain these similarities and the building of megaliths on the whole, but still, it remains unclear.
Approximately 3,000 of these megalithic monuments are known in the Western Caucasus, but more are constantly being found, while more and more are also being destroyed. Today, many are in great disrepair and will be completely lost if they are not protected from vandals and general neglect.
The dolmens are found in the area of Krasnodar. Krasnodar is a city and the administrative center of Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Kuban River about 148 kilometers (92 mi) northeast of the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.
Concentrations of megaliths, dolmens, and stone labyrinths have been found (but little studied) throughout the Caucasus Mountains, including Abkhazia.
Most of them are represented by rectangular structures made of stone slabs or cut in rocks with holes in their facade. These dolmens cover the Western Caucasus on both sides of the mountain ridge, in an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometers of Russia and Abkhazia.
The dolmens have a limited variety in their architecture. The floor plans are square, trapezoidal, rectangular, and round. All of the dolmens are punctuated with a portal in the center of the facade. While round portholes are the most common, square ones are also found. In front of the facade is a court that usually splays out, creating an area where rituals possibly took place.
The court is usually outlined by large stone walls, sometimes over a meter high, which encloses the court. It is in this area that Bronze and Iron Age pottery has been found – which helped date these tombs -, along with human remains, bronze tools and silver, gold, and semi-precious stone ornaments.
The repertoire of decoration for these tombs is not great. Vertical and horizontal zigzags, hanging triangles and concentric circles are the most common motifs.
One decorative motif that is quite common is found across the top of the porthole slab. It can best be described as a lintel held up by two columns. Pairs of breasts, done in relief, have also been found on a few tombs. These breasts usually appear above the two columns of the porthole decoration.
Perhaps related to these are the stone plugs, which were used to block the porthole, and are found with almost every tomb. They are sometimes phallic-shaped. Some unusual items associated with dolmens are big round stone balls, double balls, and animal sculptures.
One of the most interesting megalithic complexes – a group of three dolmens – stands in a row on a hill above Zhane River on the Black Sea coast in the Krasnodar area near Gelendzhik, Russia. In this area, there is a great concentration of all types of megalithic sites including settlements and dolmen cemeteries. Large stone mounds surrounded the two monuments.
Woolly Mammoth Skeleton With Intact Ligaments Found in Siberian Lake
The Siberian landscape is known to be a rich resource for prehistoric fossils and just recently a group of reindeer shepherds made a stunning discovery: the well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth.
The carcass was so intact, in fact, that it still had some of its pelt and ligaments attached to it. Researchers are hopeful that they may even find bits of its brain still in its skull.
According to the Associated Press, local reindeer herders stumbled upon the specimen in the shallow end of the Pechevalavato Lake located in the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region on June 22, 2020. The remains included a skull, several ribs, the lower jaw, and a foot fragment with sinews still intact.
Locals quickly alerted researchers, who have since been working together with residents to uncover the rest of the remains likely submerged under the lake’s surface. But it’s also likely that the endeavor will take a considerable amount of time to complete.
Researchers are optimistic, however, as Dmitry Frolov, director of the Arctic Research Center told The Siberian Times, “The whole skeleton is there.”
He added that judging by the size of the fossils, this mammoth was likely young, but only further analysis will reveal just how old it really was.
Woolly mammoths roamed our planet during the Pleistocene era, which lasted somewhere between 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago. According to scientists, mammoth populations spread across the globe, but most of their fossils in recent years have been uncovered in Siberia and Mexico.
Woolly mammoths in Russia are believed to have largely disappeared about 15,000 years ago, while another population on St. Paul Island is believed to have vanished only 4,300 years ago.
According to Yevgeniya Khozyainova, a researcher from the Shemanovsky Institute in Salekhard, finding the complete skeleton of a mammoth is quite rare.
However, several other well-preserved mammoth carcasses have been uncovered in the permafrost of northern Siberia recently as a heatwave which has been ripping through the territory over the summer thaws the thick ice. Archaeologists believe this phenomenon will only continue to reveal more prehistoric specimens.
A similar discovery was made on the other side of the world in May 2020, when the remains of 60 individual mammoths were retrieved from a construction site right outside of Mexico City, Mexico. Some 15,000 years ago that site had been the location of an ancient lake known as Xaltocan, where giant mammoths and other beasts of the time would have congregated.
Experts suspect that the mammoths in the ancient lake in Mexico died after they became trapped in the surrounding mud and it’s likely that early human hunters capitalized on their misfortune. It took six months for a team of researchers to dig out the remains and work on the site continues today.
The frozen tundra of the Siberian permafrost, however, has been famously known to produce unbelievably well-preserved specimens from prehistoric times. For instance, scientists were even able to analyze the DNA of a 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth specimen that was found incredibly well-preserved in the permafrost in 2011. The analysis showed that the DNA was still alive and active.
“Until now many studies have focused on analyzing fossil DNA and not whether they still function,” said study author Kei Miyamoto from the Department of Genetic Engineering at Kindai University. “This suggests that, despite the years that have passed, cell activity can still happen and parts of it can be recreated.”
That 2011 study has led to highly-publicized discussions about possibly cloning the woolly mammoth back to life from these active DNA strains. However, further studies on this continue.
Until then, we’ll just have to settle for the shock and awe of uncovering these prehistoric creatures little by little.
The 7,000-year-old stone bracelet is oldest ever found in the world
A Paleolithic man’s stone bracelet claimed to revolutionize our understanding of early human development. Scientific analysis suggests that the enchanting find is a 65,000 to 70,000 years old.
It’s the oldest piece of jewelry of its kind in the world that experts believe to be made by an extinct group of early people named Denisovan.
The community is closely related to Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, If confirmed, it would push back the date of its creation by around 30,000 years and show that technology used in its creation was available much earlier than thought.
Scientists from the universities of Oxford and Wollongong in Australia are due to meet this month with Russian colleagues. The academics will analyze and interpret data from tests on the age of the soil layer in which the bracelet and other artifacts, including a pre-historic needle, were found.
At an exhibition in France this year the green-hued chlorite bracelet, unearthed in a Siberian cave, was listed as 50,000 years old. It was earlier reported as originating from 40,000 years ago and made for an ancient woman by a Paleolithic craftsman.
But Russian researchers have suggested the jewellery item comes from a time long before early man was believed to have the skills or know-how to make such objects. Maksim Kozlikin, a researcher from the institute of archaeology and ethnography, in Novosibirsk, said: ‘Preliminary results have been received to date stratum 11 where the bracelet was found to 65,000 to 70,000 years.
‘So it all goes towards changing the dating of the finds to more ancient.’
Institute director Professor Mikhail Shunkov acknowledged that at 50,000 years old, the bracelet was already ‘a world-level phenomenon’ because its existence challenged the known ‘level of technologies. For example, the bracelet has a hole made by drilling and rasping devices. Our colleagues from Australia and Oxford are coming here in August, we will be discussing the dating then,’ he said, adding that some data was ‘ambiguous’ and required clarification.
‘Until then, I will refrain from saying anything.’
A consensus on the age will be announced after the experts had discussed the dating, and a major scientific journal report was expected, The Siberian Times reported. The bracelet was found in 2008 in a layer that contained Denisovan, homo altaiensis, rather than Homo sapien or Neanderthal remains, although all these groupings shared the cave at various times and interbred.
‘The bracelet is stunning in bright sunlight it reflects the sun rays, at night by the fire it casts a deep shade of green,’ said Professor Anatoly Derevyanko, the institute’s former director.
‘It is unlikely it was used as an everyday jewellery piece. I believe this beautiful and very fragile bracelet was worn only for some exceptional moments,’ he said.
The manufacturing technology used in the bracelet is seen as being more typical of a later period, for example, the Neolithic era, which began around 12,000 years ago. Dr. Derevyanko said: ‘Two fragments of the bracelet of a width of 2.7cm and a thickness of 0.9 cm were found.
‘The estimated diameter of the find was 7cm.
‘Near one of the cracks was a drilled hole with a diameter of about 0.8 cm. Studying them, scientists found out that the speed of rotation of the drill was rather high, fluctuations minimal, and that was there was applied to drill with an implement, technology that is common for more recent times. The ancient master was skilled in techniques previously considered not characteristic for the Palaeolithic era, such as drilling with an implement, boring tool type rasp, grinding, and polishing with a leather and skins of varying degrees of tanning.
‘Next to the hole on the outer surface of the bracelet can be seen clearly a limited polished zone of intensive contact with some soft organic material,’ said Dr Derevyanko. Scientists have suggested that it was a leather strap with some charm, and this charm was rather heavy.
The location of the polished section made it possible to identify the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ of the bracelet and to establish that it was worn on the right hand. Among the remains of 66 different types of mammal found in the cave were those of extinct woolly mammoths.
In 2000 a tooth from a young adult was found in the cave and in 2008, archaeologists discovered the finger bone of a juvenile Denisovan hominin, dubbed ‘X woman’.
Further examination of the site found other artifacts dating as far back as 125,000 years. Dr. Shunkov has suggested that the bracelet indicates the Denisovans were more advanced than Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.
‘These finds were made using technological methods, boring stone, drilling with an implement, grinding, that are traditionally considered typical for a later time, and nowhere in the world, they were used so early, in the paleolithic era.
‘At first, we connected the finds with a progressive form of the modern human, and now it turned out that this was fundamentally wrong.
‘Obviously it was Denisovans, who left these things.’
The Russian scientists say they examined the idea that the bracelet could have been buried underground in the cave by a later generation, perhaps in Neolithic times. But they say the soil around the bracelet was ‘uncontaminated by human interference from a later period’.
The soil around the bracelet was also dated using oxygen isotopic analysis. Redating of the bracelet would also mean a needle now held to be 50,000 years old is also even more ancient. The needle is also seen as the work of Denisovans.
CT Scan of Siberian Mummy Reveals Wounds and Tattoos
He was from the mountainous region of modern-day Khakasia, aged 25 to 30 when he died 1,700 years ago. Another CT scan showed the face of his gypsum death mask that was all the rage with the ancient Tashtyk people, who were settled cattle-breeders and farmers known for their idiosyncratic burial rituals.
The scan gives it a red punk look but it is believed that the pigtail it was wearing would have been taken off before his death. He is also the only Tashtyk mummy so far found with tattoos. But the most striking and unexpected aspect is a long suture on the side of his face: from the left eye to the ear.
A scar that had been sewn up.
Archaeologists want more research on this but the current best guess is that this suture was stitched after his death – perhaps to mend his disfigured face after a wound, possibly a fatal blow. In other words, to improve his looks before his journey to the afterlife. Final confirmation is still needed that this facial embroidery was postmortem, however. For now, it is not ruled out that this repair job was done at the end of his life.
Nor was this the only evidence of intervention by ancient surgeons on this Tashtyk man found at the Oglakhty burial ground, and laid to rest in a burial log house. His skull was trepanned in the temporal area on the left side,’ explained Dr. Svetlana Pankova, curator at the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, and keeper of the Siberian collection of the Department of Archeology.
The hole is rather big – 6 by 7 centimetres. It was made postmortem. Expert analysis shows the hole was made by the series of blows with a chisel type or hammer type tool.’ Dr Pankova said: ‘We think that it was made to remove the brain during an elaborate burial rite.’ Likewise, she thinks the facial scar can be explained in similar fashion.
‘They took all these postmortem rites very seriously, and did not save on this,’ she said. They could not just put a mask on the disfigured face. It would be great to attract an experienced surgeon to research this suture, to get full clarity. Was it postmortem or might it have been made in his lifetime?
‘Our research is complicated by the fact that we cannot take the mask away from the face (it would cause too much damage) so we must research this stitching using other methods. The archaeologists were intrigued to finally see the face under the death mask, the painting of which ‘adds some unnecessary emotional impressions’
Dr Pankova said the mask ‘has black stripes on a red background, plus the lower part of the mask was somewhat destroyed and man’s teeth can be seen.
‘So all together it creates such an aggressive look.’ Yet under the mask ‘there was nothing aggressive in this face.
‘It was the face of a calmly sleeping person.
‘The mask was very close in appearance to the real face.
‘For the first time we see the real face of a young man of this time.
‘The computer scan allowed us to see, so to say, three layers – the layer of the mask, the layer of the face without the mask and layer of the skull.’ The face of the woman lying in the same burial chamber – also buried in a fur coat – has not been revealed with a CT scan.
Or anyway not yet.
‘I would really like to make CT scan of female mummified head,’ she said. I’m planning to find a clinic which can do this research and decipher it for us.’ For now, we do not know who the woman was and how she and the man were related.
A child’s skeleton was also found in the same grave.
So, too, were two burial ‘dummies’ – an extraordinary phenomenon akin to stuffed dolls or mannequins. These may be explained by the merging of two cultures or traditions: one that buried their dead, the other that cremated. The dummies appear to represent the remains of those who were cremated. Yet there is also evidence that men were more usually cremated while women and children were buried.
‘The dummies in full height, kind of mannequins, were made of leather, filled with tightly twisted grass,’ said Dr. Pankova.
‘In the chest area, there were leather pouches with charred bones remaining from cremations.’ She told The Siberian Times: ‘The mummies, male and female, were dressed in fur coats, and they had masks on their faces. The head of one of the dummies did not preserve.
‘Sadly, probably rodents sneaked in and spoiled it. The second dummy has the face, covered with bright red woollen fabric, with eyes and a nose. On the head was a piece of Chinese silk.’ The Tashtyk culture existed between the first and seventh centuries AD in the area of so-called Minusinsk Basin of the Yenisei valley.
They were settled cattle breeders and farmers.
In 1969 Professor Leonid Kyzlasov excavated the Oglakhty burial ground and found this masked man in tomb number four. We made the radiocarbon dating using larch of the log house indicating the third to fourth centuries AD.’ The Oglakhty necropolis was originally found in 1902 by a shepherd, who fell into one of the graves, saw the people in a wooden chamber with whitish masks on their faces, got scared, and fled.
His mother-in-law was more fearless, sneaking in, and looting some items. A local official and researcher Alexander Adrianov heard about this and started excavations in 1903, unearthing three graves.
From 32,000-year-old seeds, the oldest plant ever to be “resurrected” has been grown, beating the previous record-holder by some 30,000 years.
In the course of the study, a team of scientists from Russia, Hungary and the USA collected frozen Silene stenophyll seed back in 2007, while investigating about 70 ancient ground squirrel hibernation burrows or caches, hidden in permanently frozen loess-ice deposits in northeastern Siberia, in the plant’s present-day range.
The age of seeds was estimated to range from 20,000 to 40 thousand years with the use of radiocarbon dates and time from the Pleistocene era. Rodents would normally eat the food in their larders, but in this case, a flood or some other weather event got the whole area buried.
Since the rodents had placed the larders at the level of the permafrost, the material froze almost immediately, and did not thaw out at any time since. More than 600,000 fruits and seeds thus preserved were located at the site.
Years later, a team of scientists at the Russian Academy of Sciences went on to successfully revive one of them: a flowering plant from a 32,000-year-old fruit!
The accomplishment surpasses the previous record for the oldest plant material brought back to life, of 2000 years set by Judean date palm seeds. The team led by David Gilichinsky used material recovered in the 2007 research project.
The researchers first attempted to germinate mature seeds recovered from the fruit. When these attempts failed, they turned to the fruit itself and were able to culture adult plants from placental tissue. The team grew 36 specimens from the tissue.
The plants looked identical to modern specimens until they flowered, at which time the petals were observed to be longer and more widely spaced than modern versions of the plant.
Seeds produced by the regenerated plants germinated at a 100% success rate, compared with 90% for modern plants. Scientists are unsure why the observed variations occur.
According to Robin Probert of the Millennium Seed Bank, the demonstration is “by far the most extraordinary example of extreme longevity for material from higher plants” to date.
It is not surprising to find living material this old, but is surprising that viable material could be recovered,” she added.
The reasons for the success of the experiment can be manyfold. The Russian scientists involved speculated that the tissue cells were rich in sucrose which acted as a preservative.
They also noted that DNA damage caused by gamma radiation from natural ground radioactivity at the site was unusually low for the plant material’s age and is comparable to levels observed in 1300-year-old lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) seeds proven to germinate.
Probert hopes that the techniques developed in the resurrection of Silene stenophylla may one day be used to resurrect extinct species.
Paleontologist Grant Zazula, who has previously disproven claims of ancient regeneration, said: “This discovery raises the bar incredibly in terms of our understanding in terms of the viability of ancient life in the permafrost.