400-year-old plants show signs of life in lab

53043210By Claudine Zap

Plants dating to the Little Ice Age discovered in the Arctic have come back to life. These plants are not your typical houseplant. Called bryophytes, the species is known to stay dried-out during long, cold winters and then come back to life after a time.

But weathering 400 years in a frozen glacier—that was the surprise. Researchers from the University of Alberta discovered the plants in the Canadian Arctic’s Teardrop Glacier, according to BBC News.

The glacier has been receding, leaving these ancient plants visible to scientists, who scooped them up and brought them back to the lab—and to life.

“When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind,” Catherine La Farge, who wrote a report on the find, told BBC News.

This isn’t the first odd discovery in the Arctic. Scientists revealed last month that they had evidence that a giant ancient camel—yes, like the kind that now is found in the Saharan desert—had roamed the Canadian Arctic 3.5 million years ago.