Santiago: Nearly 300 million years in the past, the frozen, inhospitable Antarctica was lined by lush subtropical forests, in accordance with scientists.
“That Antarctica was once green is a matter of consensus among scientists, but still unknown to many people,” Marcelo Leppe, a paleontologist who works with the Chilean Antarctic National Institute, instructed Efe information on Friday.
Leppe, Chile’s consultant to the worldwide Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, has spent his skilled life trying to find fossils that supply clues to the origins of the natural world of the White Continent.
Forests began appearing in Antarctica some 298 million years in the past in the course of the Permian geologic interval, as glaciers retreated and the worldwide local weather entered a warming section, Leppe stated.
Fossils from the following Jurassic interval reveal the existence of fern and conifer forests the place the Cryolophosaurus species of dinosaur thrived.
But the golden age of vegetation in Antarctica was the Cretaceous interval, which started 145 million years in the past and lasted till around 66 million years in the past.
“Roughly 80 million years ago, walking in Antarctica was like walking today in a tropical or subtropical forest, something like what we could encounter in south-central Chile or in New Zealand,” Leppe stated.
One factor that also puzzles scientists is how the forests survived the six-month-long Antarctic evening.
“We know that some dinosaurs migrated before the arrival of winter, but in the case of plants, the matter continues to be an enigma,” the paleontologist stated.
While the crops would have acquired as a lot as 22 hours of sunshine per day in the course of the Antarctic summer season, “that doesn’t necessarily imply that they had the capacity to carry out photosynthesis for longer hours than now,” he stated.
The tundra that was the final vestige of the forests disappeared 15 million years in the past, leaving Antarctica a frozen desert.
Now, nonetheless, scientists see grass and wild oats rising within the areas of Antarctica the place the ice has retreated as a result of world warming, Leppe stated.
Climate change, the introduction of invasive crops, and the retreat of the glaciers are creating the situations for the White Continent to show inexperienced ones once more.