Finding the fossils, and then bringing them to life by displaying them in museum exhibitions and films, is a long process. The panel members explained that this process requires collaboration between the researchers and artists.
Antarctica is a harsh place, with 99 percent of the continent covered with ice. It is the windiest and coldest place on Earth, with only a few living things somehow surviving on this frozen landscape. But how would you imagine Antarctica would have been 200 million years ago?
Well, while there were no polar ice caps, it was wetter and warmer than now. Lushed with forests around this continent, it was inhabited by a variety of animals, including dinosaurs. As per the scientific studies, there was a time when vast southern landmass was free of ice, and the dinosaurs roamed in here. But isn’t it amazing how anything with too much ice has been so warm in the past, that it could support the living of the Earth’s most gigantic creature?
About the time
Now, I understand you might have so many questions coming in your head, but worry not; we’ll try to find a solution. To understand this more easily, we have to go back in geological time, the time when Antarctica was ice-free. It was during the Cretaceous Period that lasted 145 to 65 million years ago. It has been a long time before when an asteroid hit the Earth and ended their time on this planet.
During this period, forests were at both poles. Fossils of cold-blooded reptiles and trees have allowed scientists to build a picture of what the climate was really like during that time. Scientists also used the shells of fossil organisms that lived in the foraminifera ocean to understand past climate. These shells help scientists to understand and analyze the chemistry of their shells and know the age intervals of when the different species lived.
It is Dr. Brian Huber from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, who investigated the Cretaceous period with a particular focus on deep-sea sites all around Antarctica. In his theory, he also explains that foraminifera provides some of the best records. As per his elaborations, the Southern Ocean around Antarctica was too warm to believe at first, even if it was close to Antarctic Circle. The high temperatures occurred during the middle of the Cretaceous, and it is still unbelievable that it was Antarctica’s temperature in the past.
According to Huber, the high temperature during the middle of the Cretaceous was because of the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect was the aftereffect of the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We are all aware of the climate changes that occurred in the past, but we are sure that it will happen again in the future. The primary reason for this climate change was the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. We are releasing a large number of CO2 (nearly hundreds of billions of tons) every year into the atmosphere, and it is just a matter of a few decades that the history would repeat itself. The Himalayas have already started melting, and the same is the situation of the Antarctica region. There is not much time left for Antarctica to go ice-free again, but dinosaurs would not come back again to life.