The southernmost continent of our planet, Antarctica, was discovered in 1820, when a Russian expedition on the boats “Vostok” and “Mirny” approached it in the area of the modern Bellingshausen glacier. Two days later, a British expedition arrived on the mainland, and the first landing was made by the Americans in February 1821. Located at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level, Antarctica is now covered with ice. But this was not always the case: a fossil frog was first discovered in the ice of Antarctica. This oldest amphibian ever discovered shows that 40 million years ago, Antarctica was more like modern South America. But can this discovery tell us anything about the future of the continent?
Ancient animals of Antarctica
Tens of millions of years ago, Antarctica was lush, green, and inhabited by a variety of creatures. Recently, while exploring the cold region in search of ancient fossils, scientists have discovered rather strange fossils that confirm that before the mass extinction that occurred at the end of the Eocene, Antarctica may have played a large role in the evolution of vertebrates, including amphibians. Moreover, the frozen continent at The earth’s South pole may have been the place where some species appeared.
The Eocene is the second geological epoch of the Paleogene period, which ended 33.9 million years ago.
Two fossilized frog bones about 40 million years old were discovered on Seymour island, will help establish what the environment was like in Antarctica at that time – six million years before the continent finally froze. According to the shape of the bones, researchers determined that the frog belonged to the family Calyptocephalellidae, modern representatives of which are helmet-headed whistlers that live in South America and the valleys of the Central Andes.
This is interesting: What is hidden under the ice of Antarctica?
However, evidence has been found that some glaciers in Antarctica were present during the time of the helmet-headed whistlers. This means that some cold-blooded amphibians and other vertebrates that live on land were able to survive in a gradually cooling area.
The discovered fossils also change the idea of how quickly the climate on the mainland changed. It is believed that Antarctica froze 33.9 million years ago, after it separated from Australia. Together, both continents were once part of the supercontinent Gondwana.
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According to Inverse, according to one of the authors of the study, Thomas Merce, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the question is how cold it was on the continent when the ice sheet was formed. Merce says the study is a sign that helmet-headed whistlers probably formed a single population throughout Pangaea before the supercontinent split.
Today, helmet-headed whistlers live in Australia, New Guinea, and South America, where they are sometimes called southern frogs. It is noteworthy that these are places with a climate that probably resembles the climate of Antarctica about 40 million years ago. The discovered remains link the living frogs of two other continents. Thus, Antarctica could be an important link not only between continents, but also between different groups of ancient frogs.
You will be interested: What did cold Antarctica look like 90 million years ago?
What is happening to Antarctica today?
According to BBC News, due to climate change, the world’s largest iceberg A68 is being destroyed in Antarctica today. let me Remind you that the A68 broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf in 2017 and has been gradually eroding since then. According to scientists who observe the A68 and other drifting glaciers, the process of its destruction will take years. The destruction of the glacier is confirmed by satellite images taken by the European space Agency’s sentinel-1 probe.
However, there is something positive about the melting of glaciers. So, recently in the glaciers of Norway were discovered things of the Vikings of the IX century. Read more in our article.
What will happen to the climate in the future?
The rapidly changing climate on our planet is causing glaciers to melt all over the world. If the emission of harmful substances into the atmosphere can not be reduced, the collapse of ecosystems will occur in the current decade, and by 2040 will affect the land. This is reported by Naked Science with reference to a study published in early April in the journal Nature.
Despite the pandemic, climate change and mass extinction of wildlife continue. If you do not take large-scale and active actions, the disaster may overtake us sooner than anyone could have imagined,-the authors of the study write.
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