WASHINGTON — Antarctica is a harsh and unforgiving place; with 99 percent of the continent covered in ice, it is the coldest and windiest spot on Earth, and few living things can survive on the continent’s frozen landscape.
But nearly 200 million years ago, Antarctica was very different. There were no polar ice caps, it was far warmer and wetter than it is now, and its lush, forest environments were inhabited by a variety of animals — including dinosaurs.
Scientists dedicated to uncovering Antarctic dinosaur fossils spend months at a time camped on glaciers and digging in a frozen desert in order to excavate and reconstruct beasts that lived in the distant past. After paleontologists discover and describe Antarctic dinosaur fossils, they work closely with museum exhibit developers and artists to present the public with a glimpse of how these ancient animals might have looked and behaved, according to experts who spoke at a Future Con here on June 17. [ 50 Amazing Facts About Antarctica ]
Finding the fossils, and then eventually bringing them to life in museum exhibitions and films, is a process that takes years and requires collaboration between researchers and artists, the panel members explained.
As harsh as present-day Antarctica may be, the excitement of discovering fossils and working and camping on the ice alongside teams of atmospheric scientists, geologists and ecologists makes it “a fun place to live — for a few months,” said Future Con panelist Nathan Smith, a paleontologist at…