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90 million year old forest remain discovered under Antarctic ice

90 million-year-old fossil remnants of rain forest were discovered under the thick sheets of ice of Antarctica. The discovery stamps right the claims that the Ice desert continent was once a thriving forest. This discovery will help researchers prove that Antarctica also once supported a swampy rainforest.

The researchers captured a slice of the seafloor using a drill rig aboard a polar research vessel on West Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea. The sediment core sample was taken near the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers. Scientists say the world was a different place back then. During the middle of the Cretaceous period (145 million to 65 million years ago), dinosaurs roamed Earth and sea levels were 170 meters higher than they are today. Sea-surface temperatures in the tropics were as hot as 35 degrees Celsius. This scorching climate allowed a rainforest — similar to those seen in New Zealand today — to take root in Antarctica, the researchers said.

The rainforest’s remains were discovered under the ice in a sediment core that a team of international researchers collected from a seabed near Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica in 2017. As soon as the team saw the core, they knew they had something unusual. The layer that had formed about 90 million years ago was a different color. “It clearly differed from the layers above it,” study lead researcher Johann Klages, a geologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, said in a statement.

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