When Antarctica was Green

4 Apr

A fantastic lecture in Cambridge given by Professor Jane Francis. Professor of Paleoclimatology at the University of Leeds. She went through  Antarctic history in million year bands. Apparently ferns flourished over 200,000.000 years ago, trees were prolific about 100,000.000 years ago. Wilson’s glossopteris was apparent nearly 300, 000.000 years ago (as was coal which he identified on the final expedition). The Eocene period was the time just before ice set in, a mere 40,000.000 years ago. Jane  showed paintings by an artist colleague,  which illustrated what the plants and animal life would have looked like. The paintings were informed by the fossils and remains found in Antarctica.

So, up to about 40, ooo.ooo years ago Antarctica was warm and tropical. Will we go back to that?

Incidentally, Marie Stopes was a geologist and specialist in glossopteris before she became involved in birth control. She met Scott at a dinner and wanted to go with him to the Antarctic. She  got him to promise to search for fossils and predicted that glossopteris would be found.

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