When Antarctica was Green

Date:
Venue:
The Linnean Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BF, United Kingdom
Organiser: events@linnean.org
+44 (0)20 7434 4479 EXT 11

EVENING MEETING

18:00-19:00 Thursday 16 June 2016

Antractica Was Green
Image © Jane Francis

Although the Polar Regions are now covered in ice and snow, life was very different in Antarctica millions of years ago—Antarctica was green. Fossil plants (fossil leaves, wood, pollen, seeds and flowers) preserved in rocks from Antarctica show that the continent was once covered in forests that flourished in warm humid climates, even though the continent was situated over the South Pole.

The fossils represent ancient relatives of modern Southern Hemisphere forests but at times warmthloving plants similar to those that grow today near the Equator survived at 70°S. The last Antarctic forests survived as dwarf tundra shrubs in the Beardmore Glacier region, only 300 miles from the South Pole, even as ice sheets spread across the continent about 10 million years ago.

Professor Jane Francis, Director of British Antarctic Survey, is an expert on ancient climates and fossil plants from the Arctic and Antarctica used to decipher polar climates of the past. This talk will show some of the spectacular fossils found in Antarctica and includes reconstructions of the ancient forests that once grew near the South Pole.

This meeting is free and open to all; registration is not necessary. Tea will be served in the Library from 17:30 and the event will be followed by a wine reception.

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