Antarctica was a rainforest 90 million years ago, study suggests

Hyperaxion Apr 2, 2020

Researchers found traces of fossilized roots, pollen and plant spores in the region, indicating that the climate was milder at the time.

A team of researchers from several European universities found evidence that, 90 million years ago, there were forests near the region where today is the South Pole. According to the article published by scientists on Nature, the finding suggests that the climate in that region of the planet was exceptionally hot at the time.

Antarctica was a rainforest 90 million years ago
Antarctica was a rainforest 90 million years ago. (Credit: Alfred-Wegener-Institut/James McKay).

The group came to this conclusion after finding traces of fossilized roots, pollen and plant spores in West Antarctica. The experts analyzed the organic material and compared it with existing plant species.

According to the researchers, this investigation allowed them to verify not only that there was a forest at the South Pole, but also that the climate 90 million years ago was warmer than previously thought.

That’s because the research suggests that the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere were higher than expected at that time, challenging current climate models of the period.

The researchers speculate that the forest in the region would be like that found today in New Zealand, with the temperature hovering around 12ºC. According to the team, this was common even during polar nights, which lasted for about 4 months.

“The preservation of this 90-million-year-old forest is exceptional, but even more surprising is the world it reveals,” said Tina van de Flierdt, one of the researchers, in a statement. “Even during months of darkness, wet and temperate forests were able to grow near the South Pole, revealing an even hotter climate than we expected.”

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