Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Antarctic Flora and Fauna April 07 2008

megaherb.jpg

Scientists in New Zealand and Australia have combined to publish work on whether some species of giant daisies known as Pleurophyllum arrived from Antarctica. The flowers, known to researchers as megaherbs, grow abundantly on the tiny windswept islands such as the Snares, Auckland and Campbell island groups. The research has been published on the online Nature Precedings pre-print service.

"There's always been a great deal of discussion about how plants spread in the southern hemisphere and the extent to which Antarctica has been important in this," says co-author Chris Quinn from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

As the ice age began some 1.8 million years ago, conditions on Antarctica itself became inhospitable to many plants.

But the small islands further north offered a haven for survival just beyond the icy reach of the glaciers, the authors say.

Click here for the story from the Discovery Channel website.

Click here to read the research paper itself at Nature Precedings.

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