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The forests of Antarctica

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 28, 2014

There is fossil evidence that Antarctica may have been covered by forests.

The discovery has come in the form of fossilized impressions of wood and leaves in the region of Antarctica’s Mount Achernar. Even the stumps of ancient tree trunks have been uncovered, believed to date back to prehistoric times.

It is commonly accepted that during the late Permian and early Triassic periods, as much as 250 million years ago, the whole world would have been far hotter than it is today.

Sarah Feakins, a biogeochemist from the University of Southern California, posits that the Antarctic coast was once lined with beeches and conifers; based on evidence taken from leaf waxes found in sediment cores extracted from the Ross Ice Shelf.

A period of warmer climate around 15 million years ago, known as the Miocene period, could have had areas of the Antarctic resembling the kind of forested tundra seen today in New Zealand or parts of Chile. Chemical study of the leaf wax samples indicates that during the summer months, the coast of Antarctica could have been as warm as 15°F.

(via @daveg)

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