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Science Briefing

Antarctica like Alaska in past life

August 09, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Mosses once grew and insects crawled in what are now barren valleys in Antarctica, according to scientists who have recovered remains of life from that frozen continent.

Fourteen million years ago, the now lifeless valleys were tundra, similar to parts of Alaska, Canada and Siberia in that they were cold but able to support life, researchers reported Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The moss was essentially freeze-dried, researchers said. Unlike fossils, in which minerals replace soft materials, the moss tissues were still there.

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