Methuselah, the date palm resurrected from a 1,900-year-old seed.

Methuselah, the date palm resurrected from a 1,900-year-old seed.
Image: Wikimedia Commons (Fair Use)

We know, we know. It’s not fauna. But this palm has an amazing story of rediscovery. The date species was originally domesticated during the Neolithic, some 7,000 years ago. The dates grown in the region of the Kingdom of Judah, known as Judean dates, were extolled by historians of the day. But by the 19th century, the plant had vanished. Over the past 50 years, however, excavations at the high-altitude Dead Sea site of Masada turned up 1,900-year-old seeds that researchers decided to plant.

One of the seeds grew. Nicknamed Methuselah, the palm is now 15 years old and about 11 feet tall. Last year, researchers germinated another six palm seeds. Slowly but surely, scientists are engineering the famous dates back to life and learning more about their diversity. A pity we can’t do the same for animals, yet.

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