Frozen soil that was collected in Greenland during the Cold War by a secret military operation hid another secret: buried fossils that could be a million years old. Recent analysis revealed plants that were so well-preserved they “look like they died yesterday,” researchers said.

U.S. Army scientists dug up the ice core in northwestern Greenland in 1966 as part of Project Iceworm, a covert mission to build a subsurface base concealing hundreds of nuclear warheads, where they would be within striking range of the Soviet Union. An Arctic research station named Camp Century was the Army’s cover story for the project. But Iceworm fizzled; the base was abandoned and the ice core lay forgotten in a freezer in Denmark until it was rediscovered in 2017.