"View of the Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica" by NASA / Public Domain

Remains of 90 million-year-old rainforest discovered under Antarctic ice

Apr 3, 2020

By Laura Geggel

About 90 million years ago, West Antarctica was home to a thriving temperate rainforest, according to fossil roots, pollen and spores recently discovered there, a new study finds.

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 558 feet (170 meters) higher than they are today. Sea-surface temperatures in the tropics were as hot as 95 degrees Fahrenheit (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.

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