As the earth settled down after the trauma of the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other dramatic events of the Flood—and before ice built up at the poles—we find evidence that some forests sprang up in Antarctica.

The topmost deposits on the continent are not like the Flood deposits. In fact, forests appear to have been quite extensive in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Remains of trees, such as swamp cypress and dawn redwood, have been found on Ellesmere Island in the Arctic. Fossils of subtropical and even tropical trees and plants have also been found in Greenland and Alaska.

These plants indicate that a warm temperate to subtropical rainforest once grew on at least the fringes of Antarctica. Most probably the interior of the continent quickly became much colder as the Ice Age began.1 Over the centuries following the Flood, the warmth-loving plants died out, to be replaced first by deciduous forests and then by vast stretches of tundra. As the ice age continued, even the tundra plants died out and Antarctica was covered with the ice cap we see today.

Fossil beech trees, found on the Transantarctic Mountains, have narrow rings, indicating short growing seasons. These trees were dwarfs, like those we find in subpolar regions today.2 Though nippy, the growing season must have been warmer than it is now.3

Scientists have recovered what they think might be some of the last surviving plants of the tundra, which thrived in Antarctica before the cold and ice snuffed it out. Not surprisingly, these plants are similar to species we find growing in the tundra of other continents today.

Allan Ashworth, a geoscientist from North Dakota State University, found some mosses indistinguishable from modern species. Some moss was freeze dried, still green and leafy.4 This is not surprising to creationists because these plants are not millions of years old but recent arrivals, which grew after the worldwide Flood and were frozen very recently.

Because of his mistaken assumptions about radiometric dating, however, Allan faced a quandary. “To think that modern counterparts survived millions of years on Earth without any significant changes in the details of their appearance is striking.”

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Footnotes

  1. For more on this brief period after the Flood, when wild weather conditions allowed forests to arise quickly, followed by weakening geologic catastrophes that buried these new plants, see Larry Vardiman, “A Dark and Stormy World,” Answers, Oct.–Dec. 2008, pp. 78–81. Back
  2. J. E. Francis and R. S. Hill, “Fossil Plants from the Pliocene Sirius Group, Transantarctic Mountains; Evidence for Climate from Growth Rings and Fossil Leaves,” Palaios 11:389–396, 1996. Back
  3. Vanessa C. Thorn and Robert DeConto, “Antarctic Climate at the Eocene/Oligocene Boundary—Climate Model Sensitivity to High Latitude Vegetation Type and Comparisons with the Palaeobotanical Record,” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 231(1–2), February 9, 2006, pp. 134–157. Back
  4. National Science Foundation Press Release, “Antarctic Fossils Paint a Picture of a Much Warmer Continent,” August 4, 2008. Back