400 Year-Old Frozen Plants Revived
A group from the University of Alberta were hiking around the Teardrop Glacier in the Canadian Arctic and stumbled upon something fascinating. They spotted sections of dirt peeking out from the side of the glacier with a distinctly green tint; these sections of dirt were revealed to the light by the recession of the glacier which is around 3 to 4 meters per year.
Upon closer inspection the green turned out to be some very hardy moss of the bryophytic group, which were found to be approximately 400 years old. The ground they were found on had not seen light since the Little Ice Age which ran from approximately 1550 to 1850 AD.
The discovery was surprising as previous schools of thought had thought that life in the primary succession of a glaciated valley would come from plants on the very edge of the glacier; a thought which has been turned on its head as this reveals that plants can survive extreme conditions for long periods of time under a glacier. The world of what has been living under the glaciers which are receding all around the world will open up a whole new area of ecology and issues to consider when studying the rehabilitation of such valleys.