Antarctic Drilling Program


Date of this Version



Citation: Ashworth, A.C., Lewis, A.R., Marchant, D.R., Askin, R.A., Cantrill, D.J., Francis, J.E., Leng, M.J., Newton, A.E., Raine, J.I., Williams, M., and A.P. Wolfe (2007), The Neogene biota of the Transantarctic Mountains – Online Proceedings of the ISAES X, edited by A.K. Cooper and C.R. Raymond et al., USGS Open-File Report 2007-1047, Extended Abstract 071, 4 p.


Neogene fossil assemblages are described from three localities in the Transantarctic mountains. The plant fossils, include diatoms and algal spores, megaspores of Isoetes, pollen of angiosperms and gymnosperms, wood and leaves of Nothofagus, cushion growth forms of a vascular plant and a moss species, mats of exceptionally well- preserved moss species with delicate leaves attached to stems, and achenes and fruits of vascular plant species including Ranunculus. The invertebrate fossils include disarticulated chitinous parts of beetles and flies, cypridoidean ostracods and the shells of freshwater molluscs. The only vertebrate fossil is that of a fish. The fossil assemblages require considerably warmer temperatures than are available within the Transantarctic Mountains today; estimated to be at least two to three summer months annually with mean temperatures of 4-5°C. Early interpretations allowed for the extinction of this terrestrial biota to have occurred as late as the Pliocene but a Miocene age now seems more probable.