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EcoAlert: 100-Million-Year-Old Antarctica 'Greenhouse-Effect' Forest Discovered





The chance discovery of a 100 million year old fossil forest on an island east of New Zealand has unlocked new insights on ancient life close to the South Pole revealing large trees in their original living position, early flowering plants, seed cones and rare insects preserved in a rock formation. The ancient forest was discovered by researchers in the Chatham Islands. The find is believed to be the first records of life close to the South Pole during the Cretaceous period, a time of extreme greenhouse conditions 145-65 million years ago.

Led by palaeontologist Associate Professor Jeffrey Stilwell and palaeobotanist Dr Chris Mays from Monash University's School of Geosciences, a research team including Professor David Cantrill from the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne made the discovery.

Stilwell said the fossils painted a picture of the formerly unknown life of the Cretaceous period when many southern continents including New Zealand and the Chatham Islands (Zealandia), Australia, Antarctica and South America were still mostly joined together as part of the southern landmass Gondwana.

"One hundred million years ago, the Earth was in the grip of a greenhouse effect – a planet of extreme heat with minimal ice (except in the high altitudes) and sea levels of up to 200 metres higher than today," Stillwell added. "Rainforests inhabited by dinosaurs existed in sub-polar latitudes and polar ecosystems were adapted to long months of winter darkness and summer daylight.Never before have we had evidence about what life existed near the South Pole 90 to 100 million years, or the conditions that life on land experienced."

The discovery, 865 kilometers east of New Zealand, was made in one the most remote fossil locations known in the Southern Hemisphere while researchers were investigating a bone bed further north on Chatham Island and plant remains on nearby Pitt Island.

"Until now there was no modern analogue to this type of preserved forest as close to the South Pole at approximately 1200 kilometres, which is the equivalent distance between Melbourne and Brisbane," Dr Mays said. "The discovery attests to a completely different type of ecosystem around 100 million years ago revealing the first insights into specific strategies these plants and animals evolved to cope with extreme greenhouse conditions, and months of light and alternating darkness."

Dr Mays said although no immediate comparisons could be drawn, the insights of life on Earth during past greenhouse conditions could provide clues as to how plants and animals will adapt to global warming in the future.

The Daily Galaxy via Monash University


Well no kidding. Didn't they found out a whole island bellow the ice at the Antarctic just recently?

From 150 million years ago to 65 million years ago, CO2 levels decreased by 1000 ppm. During that same period, temperatures rose by 7 degrees Centigrade. Some "Greenhouse Effect" Forest!

'Greenhouse' just because climate was different and much warmer? Such warming/cooling periods are usual for planets on a large time scale and for a variety of factors, astronomical mainly. The axial tilt might be different or the orbit rate or its distance from the sun. Or the sun might have emitted electromagnetism and heat at another rate, there are several perfectly scientific explanations other than the usual 'greenhouse' junk.

In the Eocene Epoch, which lasted from about 56 to 34 million years ago, Antarctica was still connected to New Guinea and Australia, forming the last vestiges of the southern supercontinent Gondwanaland. The fact that Antarctica was connected by land to these other large regions helped isolate it from colder ocean currents, which allowed the continent to support a tropical rainforest.


Although i respect your opinion, please base it on facts. Research in ice sheets, and geological investigation show it to only be around 300 to 400 parts per million increase, compared to pre industrial, in which we have greatly closed the gap. Although it is true there have been times the earth was much warmer then today, and had alot more co2 than even today, the effect are much greater today. The reason for this is simple, the sun was as much as 10% cooler in its solar output then it is today. Average temp today , if we had that much co2, would probably be 30 to 40 degrees higher, aka , a desert earth. As solar out continues to grow as our star ages, the earth will naturally become hotter even without human co2 production. The earth probably only has another 300-700 million years before its to hot to have water, and that may be a stretch. Please don't base your opinion on what others tell you, or you read in a news feed. Read the actually research journals and published papers at your local college that have been collected over the years. Your mind will open up.

All very interesting.. It is well know what the makeup of water is. If our world were to get “hotter” as predicted and the sea ice were to melt entirely, it is not a foregone conclusion that the land mass would be inundated to the extent that many predict.Remember Sea ice holds less water than the sea itself... Evaporation would increase and the atmosphere would hold a greater amount of water as cloud layer…The “high pressure” periods, wherever they be over the planet, would hold this extra moisture as it does at present….We can see the effects of flooding along with uplift that has previously inundated the land mass …sea shells found in mountain ranges all over the world… As far as manmade air pollution is concerned, in ages past it was natural volcanic emissions that have been the polluters, yet this old world still goes on feeding and supporting life…. I could just about predict that at some time in some place around this globe the earth will belch and a town like New York or Sydney, overnight, will be no longer….That’s just the way it has happened in the past and will do so again. In the meantime, how about each of us keeping our own back yard clean. We cannot put the blame on industry, wherever it be, simply because we are all the culprits…….We are all that industry……


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