India discovers moss species in Antarctica, names it after Goddess Bharati
- It was in 2017 that a group of researchers stumbled upon this moss species
- It has been named Bryum Bharatiensis, after Goddess Bharati
- Interestingly, Bharti is also the name of one of India's three research stations in Antarctica
It took scientists over four years to establish that a moss species discovered in Antarctica was a new species altogether. Also, this was the first time that India found a plant species in the continent since it established its research centre there four decades ago. It was in 2017 that a group of researchers stumbled upon this moss species.
Now, it has been named Bryum Bharatiensis, after Goddess Bharati. It was named by biologists from Punjab's Central University.
Interestingly, Bharti is also the name of one of India's three research stations in Antarctica, the other two being Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri.
About the new moth species discovered in Antarctica
In their research, published in the Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity, scientists found out that the moss mainly grew where penguins breed in large numbers. This is because penguin faeces contain nitrogen.
"Basically, the plants here survive on penguin poop. It helps that the manure doesn’t decompose in this climate," Professor Felix Bast, a biologist who was part of the expedition, told BBC.
A question remains how the moss survives during Antarctica's six-month-long winter when there is no sunlight and the temperature drops to below -70°C.
According to the researchers, there is a reason to believe that the moss dries to the seed during winter and germinates during the summer.
"Antarctica is getting greenified," said Bast.
Many temperate species of plants that previously could not survive in Antarctica can now be seen everywhere, he said.
This is because the continent is warming up, the professor added.