It is with delight that I read the news that Russian scientists have grown a plant belonging to the ice age (30,000 years ago) by using the tissue from a fruit found buried in a squirrel’s burrow.
"The squirrels dug the frozen ground to build their burrows, which are about the size of a soccer ball, putting in hay first and then animal fur for a perfect storage chamber," said Stanislav Gubin, one of the authors of the study, who spent years rummaging through the area for squirrel burrows. "It's a natural cryobank."
Now that this is possible, one can rest assured that no species of plant life will go extinct, if at least a part of it is preserved.
But what scared me were the following lines:
"If we are lucky, we can find some frozen squirrel tissue," Gubin told the AP. "And this path could lead us all the way to mammoth."
Japanese scientists are already searching in the same area for mammoth remains, but Gubin voiced hope that the Russians will be the first to find some frozen animal tissue that could be used for regeneration.
Sure, a mammoth may not be as scary as a dinosaur; but why should the scientists stop with a mammoth?
|Scale diagram comparing the largest known dinosaurs in five major clades and a human|
In the March 2005 issue of Science, the paleontologist Mary Higby Schweitzer and her team announced the discovery of flexible material resembling actual soft tissue inside a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex leg bone from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. After recovery, the tissue was rehydrated by the science team.I guess one need not wait for a nuclear holocaust to end the current civilization; the dinosaurs may carry out this task more efficiently!
When the fossilized bone was treated over several weeks to remove mineral content from the fossilized bone-marrow cavity (a process called demineralization), Schweitzer found evidence of intact structures such as blood vessels, bone matrix, and connective tissue (bone fibers). Scrutiny under the microscope further revealed that the putative dinosaur soft tissue had retained fine structures (microstructures) even at the cellular level. The exact nature and composition of this material, and the implications of Schweitzer's discovery, are not yet clear; study and interpretation of the material is ongoing.