|NY Botanical Garden photo|
This improbable scenario came about as a consequence of the discovery of viable plant tissue in the Siberian permafrost. Researchers digging there found the plant remnants in an animal burrow 125 feet below the surface. Even after all those years, some of the plant tissue was still viable enough to produce a clone.
A year after cloning, the plant flowered and produced viable seed (at left). The flowers and leaves are identical to modern S. stenophylla. However, its antiquated sister produces twice as many buds but has a root system that grows more slowly.
As the permafrost the world over continues to soften and melt — due to global warming — scientists may find additional ancient plant remnants and seeds that are still viable.
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