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Five Mysteries In Antarctica

Five Mysteries In Antarctica

For centuries, Antarctica has captured our imaginations. From the historic first explorers of the 1800s to the bold scientists of today, we continue to be captivated by the wonders held within Antarctica’s icy plains. 

As the world’s last unexplored wilderness, Antarctica is shrouded in mystery, and as a land of extremes, it’s also great at keeping its secrets. 

We’ve rounded up 13 of the most fascinating mysteries held within the Great White Continent.

1. Underground lakes

2. Deep Lake

3. Blood Falls

4. Unusual creatures

5. Ancient fossils & rainforests

Underground Lakes

Scientists believe the lakes were formed after the separation of Antarctica from Gondwanaland, the ancient supercontinent. The lakes don’t freeze because of the pressure from the weight of the ice sheet.

Lake Vostok, discovered in the 1990s by Russian scientists, is the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica. It’s also the third-largest lake by volume in the world, lying 3.5 kilometres below the ice.

Deep Lake

Deep Lake is an inland lake in East Antarctica that has fascinated scientists for years. The lake sits 55 meters below sea level, with water salinity increasing as it gets deeper.

It’s salty waters are comparable to the Dead Sea and are ten times saltier than the ocean. This means the water does not freeze, despite temperatures reaching -20ºC at its deepest point.

The lake is practically inhabitable, with one of the least productive, yet most remarkable ecosystems in the world. Scientists have found four microbe species living in the waters, although it’s dangerous for most other animals.

Blood Falls

In the McMurdo Dry Valley, a bright crimson, five-storey waterfall pours out of Taylor Glacier into Lake Bonney. It looks like a gush of blood from a wound in the ice, but scientists have recently discovered the cause behind this mysterious phenomenon.

The water that feeds Blood Falls was once a salty lake that is now cut off from the atmosphere due to the formation of glaciers on top of the lake.

The water is preserved 400 metres underground and has become even saltier over time – it’s now three times saltier than seawater and cannot freeze.

Unusual creatures

Antarctica is a barren, icy desert with very little rain, fierce winds, and the coldest temperatures on earth (the coldest recorded temperature was -89.4°C); yet it’s also home to a myriad of unique wildlife.

It was previously thought that nothing could survive beneath the massive ice sheets, however scientists have discovered a number of unusual species that have adapted to the harsh environment.

There are microbes, crustaceans, colossal squid, leggy spiders the size of dinner plates, giant worms with shiny golden bristles and a large, sharp-toothed jaw.

Ancient fossils & rainforests

Antarctica is an ancient land that has undergone some incredible transformations over millions of years. Before it became a frozen desert after the Ice Age, Antarctica was actually a warm region with rainforests and possibly even civilisations.

The theory developed from the discovery of fossilised wood, signs of tropical trees and leaf impressions that show the existence of rainforests in Antarctica.

Scientists have also found a ton of fossils from marine animals, birds and dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period.

Among the smaller species, they’ve uncovered the fossilised forewings of a beetle species that lived between 14 and 20 millions years ago in a warmer climate, and tiny single-celled fossils that have been a great source of debate among scientists.

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