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  • Rights: Thin Ice/University of Waikato
    Published 30 March 2017 Referencing Hub media

    Professor Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey, explains how fossil leaves and branches buried by glaciers millions of years ago show that Antarctica once looked more like South Island’s West Coast beech forests.


    Professor Jane Francis

    It’s particularly lovely to come to somewhere like New Zealand, and I know the kind of plants we have in the fossil record, and here they all are in a living, breathing forest. You know they are all growing together. There are all the ferns on the forest floor, there are tree ferns underneath, and then there are the big trees – all the different tree types – and actually, in some forests that I’ve been to in New Zealand, it’s absolutely spot on for the vegetation that we’ve seen in Antarctica. So it is like walking through Antarctica, so in my head, I am walking through Antarctica 100 million years ago, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if a dinosaur came round the corner and hid amongst the trees, you know.


    This video is an extract from Thin Ice – The Inside Story of Climate Science, a David Sington/Simon Lamb film.

    The full documentary film is available by emailing The link for streaming is available free of charge. The DVD is also available to New Zealand schools for $20 to cover costs.

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