The gene sequence of the influenza virus from the frozen soil beneath Adelie penguin colonies on Ross Island, Antarctica was analysed. Gene sequences from virus stored since 1933 show that the virus causing human epidemics originated from bird influenza. Penguins are susceptible to influenza and the virus is preserved at low temperatures. Because of this, it was expected that samples of the ... ancient virus would be obtainable from penguin colonies as faeces of birds infected with influenza are known to contain high concentrations of virus particles. Soil samples were collected from Cape Bird and Cape Adare using a sterile sampling system. All holes were photographed and the position recorded using a 1m accuracy DGPS device. The colony was photographed, the position of landmarks determined and brief survey made to aid the design of a representative sampling strategy. ~61 core samples from 8 holes and 30 surface samples were collected. Temperature loggers were used to record the variation of soil temperature as function of depth over four days. In addition, many fresh penguin faeces, water and soil samples were collected from the colonies, bottom of ponds and drainage streams. This project addresses fundamental issues about the evolution of influenza, and may prove useful in understanding the causes of human influenza epidemics.