After 1,600 years frozen, Antarctic moss shows ‘unprecedented’ survival

BY Justin Scuiletti  March 17, 2014 at 5:54 PM EST
Photos show regrowth of moss that had been frozen for about 1,600 years. Photos by Current Biology

Photos show regrowth of moss that had been frozen for about 1,600 years. Photos by Current Biology

A moss plant that spent around 1,600 years under Antarctic ice has been revived by scientists and is growing anew in a case of “unprecedented millennial-scale survival.”

In a study published in the journal Current Biology, scientists claim that the moss, retrieved from permafrost in Antarctica, initially looked black and dead. However, after being thawed in an incubator and receiving distilled water, the plant began to green and grow new shoots after only three weeks.

The finding easily makes it the longest case by far of a plant or animal revived after being frozen. The scientists wrote in the study that while mosses have “well-developed stress tolerance” in these cases, direct regeneration has only been observed with material preserved 20 years at most.