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From out of the past, 30kya Flower, 7 mya Elephant tracks


It was an Ice Age squirrel's treasure chamber, a burrow containing fruit and seeds that had been stuck in the Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years. From the fruit tissues, a team of Russian scientists managed to resurrect an entire plant in a pioneering experiment that paves the way for the revival of other species.

The Silene stenophylla is the oldest plant ever to be regenerated, the researchers said, and it is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds.

very cool, with overhead picture


In the desert of the United Arab Emirates, there is an unusual series of flat discs imprinted in the sand. Each one is about 40 centimetres wide, and they snake off into the distance in several parallel lines, for hundreds of metres.

They are tracks. They were made by a herd of at least 14 early elephants, marching across the land between 6 and 8 million years ago. The track-makers are long dead, but in the intervening time, nothing has buried their tracks or eroded them away. Today, their social lives are still recorded in their fossilised footsteps.

The site, known as Mleisa 1, provides the oldest evidence for proboscideans elephants and their close relatives living in a herd. Covering the area of seven football fields, its also probably the largest fossil trackway ever discovered, for any animal. When these beasts strolled across the landscape, the entire area would have been cut through by a river system. Rather than the dry sand of today, it would have been lush and green.
The site is too massive to photograph from the ground, but the individual prints are too small to show up on satellite images. To accurately map the trackways, Nathan Craig from Pennsylvania State University attached a small pocket camera to a kite and snapped a set of overlapping images from above. He stitched the images together into a single large mosaic, which you can see on Gigapan.

Get up close and personal here: