Antarctica harboured strange forests 250 million years ago?

Last Updated: Monday, November 4, 2013 - 17:59

New York: Weird forests with certain features of modern tropical trees may have sprouted in Antarctica about 250 million years ago, a new study has found.

During the late Permian and early Triassic period, the world was a greenhouse, much hotter than it is now.

Forests carpeted a non-icy Antarctic which was still at a high latitude, researchers said.

How plants coped with photosynthesising constantly for part of the year and then not at all in the winter is strange, according to Patricia Ryberg, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute.

The leaf impressions of the Antarctic forests appear to show mats of leaves, as if the trees had all shed at once - a sign of a deciduous forest, `LiveScience` reported.

Researchers gathered samples of fossil wood and examined the tree rings. Wood cells in the rings reveal how the trees grew.

Ryberg and her colleagues examined the Antarctic fossils and found that they looked evergreen.

Follow-up studies analysing carbon molecules in the fossil wood also gives both deciduous and evergreen answers, Ryberg said.

PTI

First Published: Monday, November 4, 2013 - 17:59

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