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The Arctic and subarctic regions Compared with other biomes the tundra biome is relatively young having its origin in the Pleistocene 1600000 to 10000 years ago Individual plant and animal species of the tundra however probably first appeared in the Late Miocene 112 to 53 million years ago or Early Pliocene 53 to 34 million years ago Coniferous forests were present on Ellesmere Island and in northern Greenland the northernmost land areas in the mid-Pliocene 25 million years ago Most paleoecologists believe that tundra flora evolved from plants of the coniferous forests and alpine areas as continents drifted into higher and cooler latitudes during the Miocene 237 to 53 million years ago The Antarctic region Antarctica has been isolated from other continental landmasses by broad expanses of ocean since early in the Tertiary Period about 60 to 40 million years ago Prior to its separation it existed along with Australia South America peninsular India and Africa as part of the landmass known as Gondwanaland This long separation has impeded the establishment and development of land-based flora and fauna in the Antarctic Other significant factors that have hampered terrestrial biotic evolution are the harsh climate the ice cover that completely engulfed the continent during the Pleistocene glaciations and the present limited number of ice-free land areas which are restricted primarily to the coastal fringes and nunataks mountain peaks surrounded by the ice cap As a consequence the terrestrial flora and fauna of Antarctica are few The Antarctic Peninsula which extends to 63 S is the location of virtually all floral development of the Antarctic The Antarctic however encompasses not only the continent itself but also those islands lying within the Antarctic Convergence where northward-flowing cold surface waters meet warmer subantarctic waters Most Antarctic islands because of their position beyond the seasonal pack ice are under much stronger maritime influence than comparable Arctic islands The flora and fauna of
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