back to article Moss reanimates after 400 years in DEEP FREEZE

Ancient plants have been brought back to life by boffins, despite having been frozen inside a glacier for over 400 years. Glacier retreat in the Canadian Arctic Researcher Catherine La Farge, director and curator of the Cryptogamic Herbarium at the University of Alberta, snagged moss which carbon-dating estimated was aged …


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  1. JeevesMkII

    Moss reanimates?

    So they did try turning him off and on again.

    1. Annihilator
      Thumb Up

      Re: Moss reanimates?

      Nearly, they tried forcing an unexpected reboot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moss reanimates?

        I guess he ended up in invalid memory.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Moss reanimates?

          Might have just been a system freeze.

    2. cortland

      Re: Moss reanimates?

      Nah, everyone knows he's retired.

  2. Thomas 4


    So could something like this be a very, very, very early stage in terraforming Mars?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: terraforming Mars?

      On Mars (iirc) the atmospheric pressure is too low for liquid water; and moss usually likes things rather damp.

    2. Ru

      Re: Hmmm

      The magic words you're looking for are 'cryptogamic crust' and 'cryotoendolith'. Green fluffy stuff like this moss is a bit advanced for early stage terraforming.

      Have a read of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, if you're bored. Lots of interesting and plausible stuff regarding terraforming.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Hmmm

        Beat me to it. I was just going to mention that series excellent read.

    3. DayDragon

      Re: Hmmm

      I wondered about that too but before this story, thinking what if we sent things like dandelions or other self-propagating/self-pollinating plants and seeded them around Mars.

      Mind you, when we came to populate Mars we'd need a lot of weed-killer

  3. Don Jefe


    Is that Catherine in the picture or the moss? It doesn't look like either.

    Subject matter aside this is neat!

  4. Richard Wharram

    Looks just like the stuff on my lawn

    Bloody bastard inde-fucking-structable it is!!

    1. BlueGreen

      Re: Looks just like the stuff on my lawn

      I think you're referring to sphagnum moss. May I ask, why not let the rather nice stuff grow in your lawn? As you tacitly admit, it can look after itself.

      1. Efros

        Re: Looks just like the stuff on my lawn

        Indeed if enough people populated their lawns with moss we could put the whole lawncare industry out of business. Moss doesn't need mowing ( major plus in my eyes) and doesn't seem to mind anything barring a drought.

        Future beer being enjoyed as I peruse my beautifully self maintained mosslawn.

  5. Spoonsinger

    Moss reanimates after 400 years in DEEP FREEZE!

    Moss: Does this sound mysterious?

    Jen: Yeah, yeah it's quite mysterious.

    Moss: I was hoping for "ruddy mysterious".

    1. Rob 5

      Re: Moss reanimates after 400 years in DEEP FREEZE!

      I'm glad that I'm not the only one who immediately thought of the IT crowd.

  6. ravenviz Silver badge

    Nuclear winter

    Farewell cockroaches, bryophytes are the new king.

  7. Jack Project

    Dare I go here?

    Could this be evidence that global warming is cyclical?

    1. Mike Brown

      Re: Dare I go here?

      and that plants have evolved a way to survive the various changes and cycles?

      1. btrower

        Re: Dare I go here?

        I agree with you. That would be consistent with the Theory of Evolution. Sadly, it is not consistent with the Catastrophic Global Warming due to Anthropogenic increases in CO2 concentration narrative. Ultimately, science will prevail, but meantime what you say conflicts with currently accepted dogma. If you want research funding, you need to steer a little clear of inflammatory references to non climate science science, or as I like to call it 'science'.

      2. Richard Wharram

        Re: Dare I go here?

        "and that plants have evolved a way to survive the various changes and cycles?"

        Be careful how you word that. Evolution through natural selection often leads to short-term gains that are disastrous against long-term environment change. If a species has adapted to survive such long-term pressures it's a happy coincidence not a necessary part of evolution.

        (very long topic. regretting mentioning it already...)

        1. NomNomNom

          Re: Dare I go here?

          "Could this be evidence that global warming is cyclical?"

          No. We already know global warming isn't cyclical.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We already know global warming isn't cyclical.

            Depends - there are climatic variations caused by periodic variations in the earths orbit; it wouldn't be unreasonable to regard the warmer parts of that to be a cyclical global warming. I'm not sure there's evidence for the cyclical occurrence of clever organisms digging up a load of fossil carbon, burning it for fuel and so adding extra CO2 to the atmosphere, thus thus causing attendant cyclical variations in the climate, though.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: We already know global warming isn't cyclical.

              The moss is 400 years old which isn't enough time for variations in earths orbit to have had a cyclical effect.

              What it does demonstrate in that this glacier wasn't there 400 years ago which means the conditions in that region, over 400 years ago, are comparable to the conditions there today.

              Vegetation from retreating glaciers in Greenland have been dated to 800 years ago (Medieval Warm Period) and to 1600 years ago (Roman Climate Optimum). The same is true for retreating glaciers in the Alps.

              I should make it clear that not all retreating glaciers uncover vegetation of this age, but then there are probably glaciers that haven't retreated that will have vegetation this age under them.

              1. Cucumber C Face

                Glaciers flow...

                .. just because the (otherwise) advancing edge is melting doesn't mean the glacier is retreating.

    2. Matt Morgan

      Re: Dare I go here?

      Global warming is cyclical, absolutely; we know that from plenty of evidence (ice ages, e.g.). The current warming is rapid and human-induced.

    3. cortland

      Re: Dare I go here?

      Encyclical, even.

      Grammar, because if you don't have a bishop, a son of a bishop will do.

  8. Graham Marsden

    Why does the word...

    ... Krynoid come to mind...?!

  9. Crisp

    The Zombie Apocalypse Begins.

    I predict that these are the first wave of scouts for a larger zombie army.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Pfft, I'm not impressed.......

    Since it was a national holiday, Syfy channel was showing a chimeric geneological nightmare documentary marathon yesterday, and apparently Dinoshark thawed out after millions of years of icy entombment. Last I saw, he was running rampant off of Puerto Vallarta!!

    (On a more serious level, I can't watch these crap Syfy channel movies, but I admire their chutzpah in reinventing the schlock horror genre. Apparently all you have to do is come up with two somewhat dangerous animals, and then make an unintentionally funny crap film starring the resulting nightmarish genetic hybrid. Yesterday's titles that I noticed while channel surfing included "Sharktopus", "Piranhaconda" and the afore-mentioned Dinoshark.)

    1. BlueGreen

      Re: Pfft, I'm not impressed.......

      Or one dangerous animal and one dangerous weather phenomenon - sharknado!


      How sad I am that I have no television (ok, I actually wouldn't mind seeing that)

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Pfft, I'm not impressed.......

      The one about the Micrapple is particularly bad.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Thawing out stuff frozen in ice?

    I'm sorry, but everybody who's been around this stuff, over there.

    Seriously - I'm the one with the flamethrower; OVER THERE. NOW!

    Now, I'm going to need a blood sample from each of you, in the Petri dishes, while I heat this wire....

    1. TenguTech

      Re: Thawing out stuff frozen in ice?

      Just what I was thinking. These researchers really need to go do some research in their local video store, specifically the John Carpenter section.

  12. ecofeco Silver badge

    Eats ALIVE!!!


  13. Arachnoid
    Thumb Up

    Moss makes a comeback

    Sterling will be interested in this one

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    In Soviet Russia...

    the moss re-animates you.

    1. Euripides Pants

      Re: In Soviet Russia...

      ew... vegisexual viagra

  15. Anonymous Coward

    "...uncovering land that hasn't seen the Sun since the 1500s."

    What about the Guardian?

  16. Spider

    Really? A good idea?

    because thawing out stuff found in ice & letting them loose works so well.

    ..MacReady fire up the helo, and watch out for those crazy norwegians.

  17. Arachnoid

    Makes me wonder whats alive in the back of my freezer?

    1. NomNomNom

      you should mount an expedition. you might find a new type of ice cream or even a sorbet?!

  18. Anonymous John

    I, for one, welcome our new prehistoric overlord.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I, for one,

      Disapointed I had to scroll so far to find the obligatory I, for one, welcome....

  19. Stoneshop

    " but nobody expected them to rejuvenate after nearly 400 years beneath a glacier,"

    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisiion either.

    The one hanging over the back of the Comfy Chair.

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