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75 Million Years Ago, Antarctica Was Devoured By Flames

By: April Carson

Antarctica is known for its thick, frozen ice and barren tundra. It was once home to dinosaurs and a profusion of plant species. The unending ice that we know now was an active ecosystem during the final Cretaceous period (100-66 million years ago), just like all other continents today. Except there were dinosaurs. According to a new paper in the South African Journal of Science, Antarctica was covered by plants and- you guessed it- dinosaurs.

In Antarctica, researchers discovered evidence of ancient wild fires

Other traces of wildfires have previously been discovered in Antarctica, and scientists have many ideas about what caused them. After the Gondwana supercontinent broke up, Antarctica started to “isolate itself” from all other large territories. Life was still flourishing on the ice-free continent even after the new continent formed.

The quantity of oxygen on Earth was considerably greater tens of millions of years ago. Because the levels were higher, any source of ignition, such as volcanic activity, would have had a far more devastating impact than it does today. There were several factors that far back in time, including Antarctica.

Antarctica's animals had to endure intense volcanic activity owing to tectonic changes that led to and followed the continent's fragmentation. In previous fossil discoveries, scientists have discovered ample evidence of ash fallout.

In 2015-2016, an international group of paleobiologists studied fossils collected on Antarctica's James Ross Island. The island is located adjacent to Argentina and the Antarctic Peninsula, which is shown on the worldwide map.

Experts discovered ancient charcoal residue with fragments between 19 and 38 millimeters in size inside the fossils. Fortunately, modern scientists have access to cutting-edge microscopes that allowed them to recognize even the tiniest samples - burnt gymnosperms.

Other studies about paleo fires

Paleobiologists discovered additional evidence of wildfires in Antarctica back in 2012, when they found charcoal remains from previous fires. Researchers determined that the charred wood components were similar to those identified in the most recent research. It appears that intense blazes were far more common during the Cretaceous era than previously thought.

There were several sources of ignition

Volcanic activity was one of the potential causes previously mentioned, and it's still a possibility today. However, scientists think that the blazes on James Ross Island were distinct from those on the Antarctic Peninsula. In other words, the 2015 indications of fire are not identical to those recently discovered.

It is unknown when the fires on James Ross Island began, since the island does not appear to be part of the mainland. According to dinosaur fossils discovered on the island, those species were flourishing at the time of the Peninsula's fires (84-72 million years ago). It's possible that the heat from the fires made the island an ideal place for dinosaurs to live, attracting them there.

However, in order to maintain a fire in a colder climate, scientists have proposed that it might have been caused by "dry lightning," also known as electrical storms. In these cases, a large buildup of static electricity within clouds results in lightning.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav





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