Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 12:48 pm
Written by: Jessica Fries-Gaither
Did you know that Antarctica was once a warm place? It is hard to imagine, but millions of years ago, the coldest, driest, and windiest place on earth was actually ice-free and inhabited by trees, plants, dinosaurs, and small mammals.
Approximately 500 million years ago, Antarctica was part of a supercontinent called Gondwana. The large land mass included Australia, peninsular India, Africa, South America, and Antarctica.
Gondwana began to break apart about 180 million years ago. Antarctica became a separate continent approximately 120 million years ago and slowly drifted to the southern end of earth’s axis. Antarctica has been in a polar location for the last 100 million years.
Glaciers began to form on Antarctica about 38 million years ago, and the continent has been covered by ice for about the last 15 million years.
Why teach about Antarctica’s past?A common misconception about the polar regions is that they have always been cold and isolated.... (more at site)