Origins and evolution of the Antarctic biota: an introduction

Within the last 25 years there has been a dramatic increase in our knowledge of the fossil record of Antarctica. Improved access to the remotest parts of the continent, the advent of offshore drilling and intensive study of early expedition collections have all led to the accumulation of a vast amount of data that stretches back nearly 600 Ma to the beginning of the Cambrian period. No longer can Antarctica be dismissed from our view of the history of life on earth simply because so little is known about it; it is fast becoming another crucial reference point for global palaeontological syntheses. If, today we have an image of Antarctica as a remote, inhospitable continent that supports little life, we now know that such a view cannot be projected back indefinitely through time. Abundant plant and animal fossils from a variety of periods point to much more benign climates and immediately raise a series of interconnected questions: where did such organisms come from, how long did they persist, and precisely when (and how) did they become extinct? Can our most southerly continent throw further light on the long-term role of climate in driving evolutionary trends (e.g. Valentine 1967; Vrba 1985)? It was with points such as these in mind that a mixed group of palaeontologists, biologists, geologists and geophysicists gathered together for an international discussion meeting on the ‘Origins and evolution of the Antarctic biota’ at the Geological Society, London on 24 and 25 May 1988. A further workshop day


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Authors: Crame, J. Alistair ORCIDORCID record for J. Alistair Crame

Editors: Crame, J. Alistair ORCIDORCID record for J. Alistair Crame

On this site: Alistair Crame
1 January, 1989
In: Crame, J. Alistair ORCIDORCID record for J. Alistair Crame (eds.). Origins and evolution of the Antarctic biota, London, Geological Society of London, 1-8.
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