Because of such harsh and cruel weather in Antarctica now, very few plants live there.
And there aren't any trees there either.
There are only 800 species of plants existing in Antarctica.
350 of them are lichens.
Lichens are fungus typed non-flowering plants that grow on tree trunks, rocks, and on the ground.
They resemble moss and are very well adapted to Antarctica's environment.
Given its extreme temperature, Antarctica hosts a surprising variety of marine and animal life.
Ironically, this does not include the Polar Bear, which is indigenous to the Arctic region.
Antarctica's colorful environment includes seabirds, penguins, seals, whales, and the unique Antarctic Fish.
This little known creature, has no red hemoglobin in its blood, making it appear transparent and allowing it to stay comfortable in the extreme cold.
The lack of hemoglobin serves as a natural anti-freeze.
One specie of Antarctic Fish has some unusual features.
The fish's head is almost 75% as big as the rest of its body.
The largest fish in the Antarctic waters is the Antarctic Cod.
The largest recorded Antarctic Cod ever caught was 162 lbs.
The average ice fish is around two feet long, and weighs around two and a half pounds.
It is different from most fish, because it has a beak.
The mouth is inside its beak. There are only 120 species of Antarctic Fish left.
The Small Land Animals
The only land animals in Antarctica are very small.
They consist of protozoans and small insects.
Other than those two there are no other native land animals in Antarctica.
However, Antarctica has many ocean animals.
The land is too warm to support much life but the water is not.
Some of the tiny ocean creatures are Zooplankton (krill) and Phytoplankton.
These two creatures are what most of the animals in the Antarctic live on.
Krill are tiny, red, shrimp like creatures that are the most abundant of all the Zooplankton in Antarctica.
They measure about 1.5 inches and are very important for the Antarctic food chain.
Krill is the main source of food for fish, penguins, birds, seals and whales.
The Antarctic waters are filled with them.
The Mascot of Antarctica: The penguin
The so-called mascot of Antarctica is the penguin.
However, out of eighteen living species there are only seven species of penguins that are found in Antarctica.
They are the Adelie, Chinstrap, Gentoo, Emperor, Macaroni, Rockhopper, and King.
The only penguins considered as "true" Antarctic penguins are the Adelie and Emperor because they live on continental Antarctica.
The Adelie is the most common penguin (named after a French explorer) and the Emperor is the largest.
The others don't.
Scientists believe that these beautiful creatures evolved around fifty million years ago.
Now there are millions of penguins living in Antarctica.
They live on the coast because they eat from the sea.
Penguins have a waterproof coat of feathers and a thick layer of fat both of which are essential for swimming.
Penguins are amazing swimmers but they cannot fly.
The bones of these flightless penguins are solid instead of being hollow like most birds, making them unable to fly.
The largest of the penguins species is the emperor.
It is also the only Antarctic bird never to set foot on land.
It breeds and lives on sea ice attached to the mainland.