Traveling to Antarctica in Search of Fossils
Three years ago, an international team of researchers journeyed to Antarctica to search for evidence that the now-frozen continent may have been the starting point for some important species that roam Earth today. Julia Clarke, a paleontology professor at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences, was a co-lead on the mission.
Before it became one of the coldest places on Earth, Antarctica had a warm, lush jungle climate and a variety of life. As the Age of Dinosaurs ended and the rise of mammals began, about 100 million to 40 million years ago, migration from Antarctica could have played a critical role in the evolution of backboned animals.
Aided by helicopters, scientists conducted research to answer these history of life questions on James Ross Island and other nearby islands off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. This area is one of the few spots in Antarctica where fossil-bearing rocks are accessible.
The monthlong expedition was part of the Antarctic Peninsula Paleontology Project, or AP3, a research initiative funded by the National Science Foundation.