Signy Island, which lies 375 miles off Antarctica, has too harsh an environment to support a single tree. Its mountains are girdled instead by banks of moss. "It’s just like a big, green, spongy expanse," said Peter Convey, an ecologist at the British Antarctic Survey who has worked on Signy Island for 25 years…Blankets of permafrost have grown on the island for thousands of years, since the glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age…In 2007, Paul G. Falkowski of Rutgers University and his colleagues reported reviving bacteria trapped in Antarctic ice for eight million years. The idea that bacteria can survive for so long has inspired a lot of debate. "It gets controversial pretty quickly," said Dr. Jay Lennon of Indiana University, who was not involved in Dr. Falkowski’s study.
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