13 Jun 2008



Meet Methuselah. Not a person, but a date palm from a variety extinct more than 1000 years. Unbelievable?

The 5ft-tall plant was grown from a 2,000-year-old seed found at the ancient Israeli fortress of Masada.

It came from a Judean date palm tree that could have been growing in the forests between Galilee and the Dead Sea when Jesus was alive.

The scientists who grew the seed said it came from a date eaten by one of the 960 Jewish rebels who occupied the Roman garrison at Masada during the great uprising against Rome.

After a three-year siege, the Jews famously committed suicide rather than surrender and become slaves.

The plant has been named Methuselah after the oldest person in the Bible.

...when the time came to transfer the sapling to a bigger pot, the researchers discover fragments of the seed's shell attached to the roots.

Tests on these, reported today in the journal Science, confirmed the sapling was around 2,000 years old  -  the time when the Masada was in use.

Isn't that something? Who knows, if the tree is female an extinct specie can once again come alive.