Antarctica Rainforest South Pole
Photo credit: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / James McKay | CC-BY 4.0
Way back when dinosaurs roamed the planet, Antarctica was not the cold, desolate place it is now, but rather had a dense temperate, swampy forest environment, similar to the forests found in New Zealand today. This finding was uncovered when unexpected fossil traces of the temperate forest were found in a core sediment dug up near West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier back in 2017. Read more for a video and additional information.

CT scan data showed a fascinating dense network of roots spreading through the entire soil layer dating back 90 million years, or to be more specific, during the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs walked the Earth. The well-preserved core had countless traces of pollen, spores, remnants of flowering plants, and even more surprising, the researchers could make out individual cell structures.

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The unusual colouration of the sediment layer quickly caught our attention; it clearly differed from the layers above it,” said Johann Klages, a geologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.