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The Transantarctic Mountains

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Ancient Antarctica


The Transantarctic Mountains are built of sedimentary rocks that accumulated in streams and lakes from ~280 million years ago to ~200 million years ago – during the Permian and Triassic periods of geologic time.

These rocks are important for 3 reasons:

  • 1) They show how much warmer the climate was then than now, even though Antarctica was near or at the South Pole, as it is now.
  • 2) They show how the climate and ecosystems changed during this period of time.
  • 3) They provide arguably the best record of ancient life on land and in lakes and streams in the world.

In 2005-2006 four geoscientists received grants from the National Science Foundation to study the rocks and fossils in the Allan Hills in the Transantarctic Mountains. They combined their findings with those of other geoscientists and worked with Mary Parrish, Scientific Illustrator at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum who painted pictures of what the ancient landscapes, animals and plants looked like. (Collaborators)

They also filmed what it was like to work in the field in Antarctica, and Pete Fritz edited the film which is on youtube at: Allan Hills Antarctica


Learn more about the Transantarctic Mountains here!