Extinct Tree Grows From 2,000-year-old Seed

The Judean date palm tree thrived in Israel and was mentioned in the Bible quite a few times. But thousands of years of war destroyed the date palm groves and the palm became extinct by 500 CE. We tend to believe that when a species goes extinct, it is never coming back. But that belief doesn’t take into account how long seeds can remain dormant and stay viable.

During excavations at the site of Herod the Great's palace in Israel in the early 1960's, archeologists unearthed a small stockpile of seeds stowed in a clay jar dating back 2,000 years. For the next four decades, the ancient seeds were kept in a drawer at Tel Aviv's Bar-Ilan University. But then, in 2005, botanical researcher Elaine Solowey decided to plant one and see what, if anything, would sprout.

"I assumed the food in the seed would be no good after all that time. How could it be?" said Solowey. She was soon proven wrong.

The resulting tree is named Methuselah. Ten years later, it is not only thriving, it has produced pollen, which has been used to germinate seeds on a wild date palm. Read more about the ancient tree growing in Israel at Treehugger. -via Nag on the Lake

(Image credit: Dr. Avishai Teicher)


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The "food" will be viable until the end of time as long as they are kept dry. The issue would have been with the germ. Ask any brewer.
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