Scientists resurrect mysterious Judean date palms from biblical era - Haaretz
May 03, 2021 2 mins, 7 secs

Reincarnating an extinct species by using cloned DNA extraction from corpses or miraculously preserved ancient seeds has not happened yet.

But now science has announced the resurrection of the “extinct population” of Judean date palms using all-but-miraculously preserved seeds from around 2,000 years ago.

“The Judean date palms are, as of now, an overarching term that refers to date palms grown in the region during Classical times. What is unclear is if they represent a distinct variety,” Prof.

What is clear on the other hand is that, extraordinarily, seven date palms have so far been grown from seeds aged around 2,000 years, some significantly more, found in the general area of Masada and the Dead Sea.

The first Judean date palm to be brought to life was Methuselah.

Researchers then set out to try to germinate more ancient date seeds found by archaeologists at Masada and the Dead Sea area, in the hope of producing a female Judean palm with which Methuselah could be fruitful and multiply.

Comparison of their genetic sequences with modern palms – domestic ones from North Africa and Western Asia, and no fewer than five wild species from Oman – revealed an unexpected twist in the story of the Judean date.

“What is unclear is if they are feral dates – that is, descendants of individuals that escaped from farms or from abandoned orchards. The ones in Oman appear to be a distinct wild lineage. What has always been unknown is the wild ancestor of the cultivated date palm: no one has found this ancestor wild population.”.

Methuselah is a West Asian date palm, period – what used to be known, the researchers explain, as a “Middle Eastern date palm.” Hannah basically is too.

The other five, Adam to Uriel, are hybrids of said “Middle Eastern date palm” with the Cretan.

“There’s only one species of the domesticated date palm: Phoenix dactylifera?

There are believed to be about 3,000 varieties of this species, although the exact number is not known,” Purugganan says. “The Phoenix dactylifera of North Africa (which includes well-known varieties like Medjool and Deglet Noor) also appear to contain genetic information from the related wild Cretan palm Phoenix theophrasti.” .

The scientists conclude that the Second Temple-period farmers of the land were hybridizing the local date palm with the Cretan cultivar around 2,200 years ago.

Purugganan confirms that, to date, no extinct species, fauna or flora have been resurrected, insofar as is known.


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