Antarctica hasn’t always been covered by miles-thick ice sheets, a land of hunkered-down penguins and some scraggly grasses. Roughly 35 million years ago, Antarctica was a warmer, more luscious land. Then, the glaciers that now dominate the land were relegated to the high mountaintops, if they existed at all. Instead of miles of frozen water, Antarctica was teeming with trees and flowering plants, a verdant landscape home to ancient marsupials, says Rice University’s John Anderson. And, in research released earlier this year, an international team of scientists have given us our best look yet at what that land may have looked like:
Here’s NASA explaining how the map was put together:
Who knows what scraps of plant and animal material from the ancient world may have survived the crushing and grinding of flowing glacier ice? Miles of ice still stand between us and the Antarctic terrain, but one day we might find out.
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