30,000 years ago, the Friday before the Ice Age, a little squirrel got out of bed and went about its biggest chore for the day: fetching flowering-plants to keep in its little burrow, either for munchies or because it generally wanted to brighten up the place. Either way our furry friend had good taste—he’d gone with the white-flowered Silene stenophylla: a beautiful but jinxed species destined never to make it out of the Ice Age alive. Well, good news: the squirrel’s stash of munchies/decorations, buried in Siberian permafrost for 30,000 years, has recently been found and plundered by Russian researchers.
Svetlana Yashina of the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and her team, have with expensive and elaborate modern-day techniques managed to resurrect (put in a ceramic pot) the Silene stenophylla from seeds successfully extracted with expensive scientific machinery (tweezers) from the frozen specimen after a delicate thawing operation (they put it by the window). And hurrah, Silene stenophylla lives again!
But this plant’s unnatural, zombie-like return to the land of the living begs a few moral questions. After all, this plant was not hunted to extinction like the Dodo bird—it was quite naturally murdered by the Earth itself. We’re talking premeditated; ice ages sort of take a minute to get going, they don’t just spring up overnight in a passionate rage. This flower had its time on our world and nature selected it for extinction. The essential question becomes: do we play it safe with standard Jurassic Park safety protocol and breed this plant lysine-deficient so that if it starts growing out of control we can simply stop supplying it with lysine injections? Even so, might life not simply find a way? It’s all “ooh, ahh!” now, but later comes the running and the screaming.