Antarctican Rainforest May Have Existed
by Arthur F. Beaugeard
Antarctica: None is more desolate, more brutally cold, and more lonely and devoid of life. However, new evidence has emerged that has the scientific community abuzz with zestful speculation about the swampy scenes hidden in the 5th-largest continent’s prehistoric past—namely, there is talk of a long-gone rainforest.
New sedimentary evidence collected from the ice in West Antarctica has revealed that a plethora of diverse pollens, spores, and root systems existed during the Turonian-Santonian age, which was approximately 92 to 83 million years ago and took place during the Cretaceous. The ice core recovered by the scientists pristinely preserved these specimens in freezing temperatures for untold generations.
The high temperatures needed to sustain such life could only be produced during such periods as the Turonian-Santonian due to the extreme density of carbon dioxide needed. After a thorough analysis of the topography, it was concluded that there was likely a temperate lowland rainforest that existed in the area which could have had levels of biodiversity similar to the Amazon, Congo, or Borneo rainforests. Glaciers would be scarce in this time and place, even during the 4-month-long winter that the rainforest went through each year.
With a similar amount of yearly rainfall as Wales in an era of dinosaurs and a sea-level that was 553 feet higher, Cretaceous Antarctica reminds us that nothing is permanent. Our world is constantly shifting and with the advent of Climate Change, it seems as though we may be shifting towards a similar trajectory that Antarctica took years ago.
Klages, Johann P., et al. “Temperate Rainforests near the South Pole during Peak Cretaceous Warmth.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 1 Apr. 2020, www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2148-5.
Strickland, Ashley. “Evidence of Ancient Rainforests Found in Antarctica.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 Apr. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/04/01/world/antarctica-ancient-rainforest-scn/index.html.