Fossils in Antarctica
Fossils are preserved in sedimentary rocks. These rocks accumulate under the sea, or by the action of vast river systems on land during periods of uplift and erosion. Fossil-rich sedimentary rocks provide valuable information on the evolution of life, past environments and the distribution of landmasses.
Marine fossils, mainly shells of animals without backbones, are important in helping us to date the rocks. Similarities between groups of organisms point to former connections across and between oceans. Bones and teeth of fishes and marine reptiles have also been found.
Antarctica today is a cold, inhospitable desert; however, in the more distant past, the climate was much warmer. Abundant finds of fossil leaves and wood point to the existence of extensive forestation in earlier geological periods, even to within a few degrees of latitude of the South Pole itself. Dinosaurs, and later, marsupial mammals once roamed across its surface.