General, Research, Technology

40 million years ago frogs lived in Antarctica

The southernmost mainland of our planet, Antarctica,It was discovered in 1820 when a Russian expedition on the Vostok and Mirny boats approached it in the area of ​​the modern Bellingshausen Glacier. Two days later, a British expedition arrived on the mainland, and the first landing was made by the Americans in February 1821. Located at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level, Antarctica today is covered in ice. But this was not always the case: a fossil frog was first discovered in the ice of Antarctica. This is the oldest amphibian ever discovered that 40 million years ago, Antarctica was more like modern South America. But can this discovery tell anything about the future of the mainland?

Modern helmet-headed whistlers live in South America

Ancient animals of Antarctica

Tens of millions of years ago, Antarctica waslush, green and inhabited by a variety of creatures. Recently, while exploring a cold region in search of ancient fossils, scientists discovered rather strange fossils, confirming that, before the mass extinction that occurred at the end of the Eocene, Antarctica may have played a large role in the evolution of vertebrates, including amphibians. Moreover, the frozen continent at the South Pole of the Earth may have been the place where some species appeared.

Eocene - The second geological era of the Paleogene period, which ended 33.9 million years ago.

Two petrified frog bones about 40 years oldmillion years were discovered on the island of Simor, will help establish what the environment was in Antarctica at that time - six million years before the mainland finally froze. According to the shape of the bones, the researchers determined that the frog belonged to the family Calyptocephalellidae, whose modern representatives are helmet-headed whistlers that live in South America and the valleys of the central Andes.

This is interesting: What is hidden under the ice of Antarctica?

However, evidence was foundthat some glaciers in Antarctica were present even at the time of the existence of helmet-headed whistlers. This means that some cold-blooded amphibians and other vertebrates that live on land were able to survive in a gradually cooling area.
Discovered fossils also changean idea of ​​how fast the climate was changing on the mainland. It is believed that Antarctica froze 33.9 million years ago, after being separated from Australia. Together, both continents were once part of the Gondwana supercontinent.

Discovered fossils look like this

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According to Inverse, according to one of the authorsresearch by Thomas Mears, published in Scientific Reports, the question is how cold it was on the continent when ice formed. Merce says the study is a sign that helmet-headed whistlers probably formed a single population throughout Pangea before the supercontinent split.

Today, helmet-headed whistlers live in Australia,New Guinea and South America, where they are sometimes called southern frogs. It is noteworthy that these are places with a climate probably reminiscent of the climate of Antarctica about 40 million years ago. Discovered remains link living frogs of two other continents. Thus, Antarctica could be an important link not only between continents, but also between different groups of ancient frogs.

You will be wondering: What did cold Antarctica look like 90 million years ago?

What is happening to Antarctica today?

According to BBC News, due to climate changeToday in Antarctica the world's largest iceberg A68 is being destroyed. Let me remind you that the A68 broke away from the Larsen C ice shelf in 2017 and since then has continued to gradually collapse. According to scientists who are observing the A68 and other drifting glaciers, the process of its destruction will last for years. Confirmation of the destruction of the glacier are satellite images taken by the Sentinel-1 probe of the European Space Agency.

This is the iceberg A68, which broke away from Larsen C

However, there is something positive about the melting of glaciers. So, recently in the glaciers of Norway were discovered things of the Vikings of the IX century. Read more in our material.

What will happen to the climate in the future?

The rapidly changing climate on our planetcauses melting glaciers around the world. If the emission of harmful substances into the atmosphere cannot be reduced, then the collapse of ecosystems will occur already in the current decade, and by 2040 it will also affect land. This was reported by Naked Science with reference to a study published in early April in the journal Nature.

Despite the pandemic, climate change andMass extinction of wildlife continues. If we do not take large-scale and active actions, a catastrophe can overtake us earlier than anyone could imagine, the authors of the study write.

Since the collapse of marine ecosystems can occurin the coming years, then soon the key ecosystems of India, Central Africa, the Amazon and Northern Australia. According to a forecast made by researchers at Imperial College London, ecosystem collapse will reach even more moderate latitudes by 2050. However, if all the countries that have signed the Paris Climate Agreement will comply with all necessary requirements and warming will remain within 2 ° C, collapse awaits only 2% of ecosystems. Unfortunately, under the circumstances, the collapse of 2% of ecosystems is good news.