Field of Science

Botany in Antarctica

What do botantists study in Antarctica? Well, plants, of course, but they don't grow there now. Here and there rocky islands emerge above the ice cap and their fossil bearing sediments thus exposed bespeak a very different climate in a very different time. In the Late Permian Antarctica was part of Gondwana, a super continent, and as an ice age receded pteridosperms , woody, seed plants with ferny foliage, moved in, and a group called the glossopterids were the most common. Their fossils provide a window on an ancient world, and somewhere, somehow, some of the pteridosperms had a common ancestry with flowering plants. Still this tropical botanist find the idea of Antarctic field work rather daunting. Besides my best field parka is at the cleaners.

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