by RL David Jolly

A number of animals including squirrels dig burrows in the ground and use them not only to live in, but to store foods for harder times.  As a wildlife biologist, I’ve have carefully excavated some of these burrows to learn more about ground squirrels in Arizona.  As we exposed the many feet of burrow, we mapped it out and made notes of the different chambers and their contents.  Some chambers contained mats of grass and were used for bedding.  Other chambers contained various seeds, dried flowers and chewed sticks.  These were the food chambers which allowed us to know what the animals were eating.

A team of researchers were conducting similar studies, only they were excavating squirrel burrows that had been frozen in permafrost near the banks of the Kolyma River in Siberia.  These burrows were found at depths of 65 feet to 131 feet in the river bank.

The scientists believe that the burrows date back to the time of the wooly mammoths since they found mammoth, wooly rhinoceros, horse, deer and bison fossils in the same strata as the burrows.  According to the report, the burrows were thought to be over 30,000 years old.

They also believe the burrows have been continuously frozen since the time of the mammoths because of the long vertical ice wedges they found in the same layers of soil.  Had the burrows been thawed out at any time, the ice wedges would not have been as large or present at all.

Tucked up in what would have been the coldest chambers of the burrows, researchers found seeds and fruit that were still frozen solid.  They attempted to get the seeds to germinate and grow, but were unsuccessful.  Then they used placental tissue from the mature fruit that were recovered and were able to grow the narrow-leafed campion, Silene stenophylla.

The researchers were not surprised at being able to grow plants from the frozen material recovered from the icy burrows, but they were surprised that it wasn’t the seeds that grew, but placental tissue from the plant’s fruit.  They suspect that the sugar-rich tissue of the fruit helped to preserve the placental tissue that was used since sugar is a natural preservative.

In the report, they mentioned that the oldest known seeds to produce a living plant were from date palm seeds from Masada in Israel that were 2,000 years old.  The new date of 30,000 years far surpasses the Masada record, but not by as much as the Russian scientists believe.

From a biblical perspective, the mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses existed only a few thousand years ago, not 30,000 years.  The Genesis flood took place about 4356 years ago, followed by the Ice Age a few hundred years later.  Mammoths and woolly rhinos appear to have died out during or at the end of the Ice Age, which would place the date of the squirrel burrows somewhere between 4,000 and 3,600 years ago.

Therefore, the plants grown by the Russian scientists are not any older than 4,000, which doubled the Masada record of 2,000.  The discovery and results are still exciting in the world of science and paleobotany.

Genesis Flood Fact or Fiction

This book will answer your questions about the reality of Noah’s Flood and the Ark. Was the Ark big enough? Is there evidence that it really happened? Author Dr Tas Walker, an engineer and geologist, shows that the biblical account is thoroughly believable, and explains where you can see the evidence. The message can change your world. (High School–Adult) 32 pages.

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