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Antarctic Fossil Forests: Attack of the Insects

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Michael Flowerdew.

Open to non-BAS; please contact Mike Flowerdew (mf@bas.ac.uk or 221638) if you would like to attend.

Many collections of Eocene Fossil leaves from Antarctica contain a rich store of insect trace fossils, indicating that insects were an important component of the unique forests that grew in polar regions. However, insect body fossils themselves are rare and so insect traces provide an excellent opportunity to examine both the palaeoentomology and the palaeoecology of Antarctica. The fossils studied include Eocene leaves from both Seymour Island and King George Island on the Antarctic Peninsula. A database of all insect traces on the Antarctic fossil leaves was compiled and analysed in terms of the diversity of palaeoherbivory. The fossil leaves are diverse with several different plant species present such as Nothofagaceae and Cunoniaceae. The range of traces found includes leaf mines, galls and general leaf chewing, of which both marginal and non-marginal examples are present. The preliminary results of the comparison with modern day environments in South America will be shown, providing a greater indication of the types of insects that may have created such traces in Antarctica in the past.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey series.

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