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Fossilised Rainforest Dating Back 90-million-years Discovered Underneath Antarctic Ice

The fossilised rainforests were discovered based on the evidence from sediments collected at seabed near the Pine Island glacier in the west of Antarctica.

Fossilised rainforest

Researchers have reportedly discovered the 90-million-year-old fossilized remains of a rainforest underneath Antarctic ice which reveals that the continent was warmer than what it is today. The finding suggests that the forests in Antarctica resembled the present-day forests of New Zealand during the mid-Cretaceous geographical period, over 145 million years ago. While it has been discovered that the period was the warmest in 140 million years, the sea level was 170 meters higher.

According to reports, the study concluded its findings based on the evidence from sediments collected at seabed near the Pine Island glacier in the west of Antarctica. The samples taken in the year 2017 revealed about the environmental condition of the Antarctic Polar Circle. A geologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, and study’s first author Dr. Johann Klages, told a media outlet that the scientists studied well-preserved diverse fossil pollen and other plant remains in the sediment deposited some 90 million years ago near the South Pole. He said that the preserves in the sediment indicated that the coast of West Antarctica was actually a dense temperate, swampy forest. 

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Higher carbon dioxide levels

The scientists studied the depth of the roots preserved in the core of the sediment to discover the Antarctic’s past environments and climates. They then constructed a photograph of its landscape from millions of years ago. To achieve this, they CT-scanned the soil, as per media reports. According to the study, evidence of a mild climate has been found around 500 miles from the South Pole, with annual mean temperatures of around 12°C and summer temperatures averaging at 19°C.

The study also found that the rainfall recorded in the region was similar to the UK’s Wales region. Therefore, the scientists inferred that Antarctica had climate similar to the UK 90 million years ago than what it has now, temperature ranging from -10°C to -60°C at its highest point. It was also discovered that the carbon dioxide levels in Antarctica's atmosphere millions of years ago used to be significantly higher.

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