400-Year-Old Arctic Plants Frozen by Glaciers Come Back From the Dead

by , 05/28/13

news, environmental news, climate change, polar bears, national academy of sciences, University of Alberta, teardrop glacier, plants come back from the dead, arctic plants, ice age, bryophytes

A crop of 400-year-old plants that were wiped out by glaciers have come back from the dead, BBC News reports. Researchers exploring the Teardrop Glacier high up in the Canadian Arctic say that the ice has been retreating at a rate of three to four meters every year since 2004, exposing land that has been covered since the Little Ice Age that took place between AD 1550 and AD 1850. While on a recent expedition, the University of Alberta team discovered something that had a “greenish tint.” It turned out to be ancient bryophytes sprouting new growth after 400 years of dormancy!



news, environmental news, climate change, polar bears, national academy of sciences, University of Alberta, teardrop glacier, plants come back from the dead, arctic plants, ice ageImage via Shutterstock

The bryophytes “are flourishing under lab conditions,” BBC News reports. These are not like plants we know today since they lack the vascular tissue necessary to pump fluids. Dr. Catherine La Farge said it is common for them to remain dormant, but she was stunned to find that they were sprouting new growth after 400 years under ice.

“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,” she told BBC News.

The findings, which were presented at a National Academy of Sciences meeting, gives researchers a clue about how ecosystems survive cyclical ice ages. A host of other plants, some never before seen by modern scientists, are emerging from the shadows as well – including cyanobacteria and green terrestrial algae.

Via BBC News

Lead image of byrophytes, Wikipedia

Related Posts

LEAVE A COMMENT

or your inhabitat account below



3 Comments

  1. Jackie Donnelly March 18, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Actually, these probably ARE like plants we know today. They sure look just like the common liverwort Marchantia polymorpha, which is known to invade the soil of potted plants in nurseries. Your photo appears to be the male Marchantia plants. The female plants look like tiny palm trees.

  2. Chea Sopheap March 18, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Even without human, all those plants still grow.. and it will growing very good.

  3. english cheese man May 31, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Canada gets better every day.

  • Read Inhabitat

  • Search Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Browse by Keyword

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home