Antarctica: How scientists discovered ‘spectacular fossil’ exposing shock history

Antarctica is of great interest to scientists as it is a totally unspoilt landscape where they can study the effects of climate change. Since 2006, researchers from Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the US have been drilling through ice, water and rock to recover core samples in a programme known as the Antarctic Drilling Project (ANDRIL). Their research has been pivotal in laying bare the true effects of climate change on the continent. 

However, one particular find – which was revealed during Nova’s “The Secrets Of Antarctica” series – tops the rest. 

The programme revealed how scientists dug hundreds of metres below the frozen desert to get a look into the past. 

The narrator said in 2015: “After a day-and-a-half work the bid is in place and drilling is back on track. 

“They recover a 12-foot length of core wrapped in a protective cover. 

“Workers carefully take it back to the lab to be examined, when they crack it open, it’s in perfect condition. 

“This mud and rock is more valuable than gold because each core is a time machine.” 

The series went on to reveal how ANDRILL scientists slice up the ice core sample to read into ancient history. 

It added: “As the cores are recovered, each section is sliced lengthwise, x-rayed and scanned in labs in the drill site at McMurdo. 

“Each core tells a story depending on its texture, colour and contents. 

“And some of those stories are spectacular. 

“These shells are evidence of warmer times, even as Antarctica is icing up.” 

Marco Taviani, from the Institute of Marine Science, Italy, detailed the amazing discovery they made. 

He said: “This is one of the most spectacular fossil found using ANDRILL incision. 

“This is a scallop – now this type of scallop simply do not live in extreme polar waters. 

The same series revealed how researchers made an equally interesting discovery that dates back to the era of Jesus Christ. 

The narrator detailed: “The team is drilling through ice and their goal is to gather samples from the nearly two-mile thick West Antarctic ice sheet.During the same series another remarkable fossil was uncovered. 

The deeper they go the further back in history they travel. 

“These ice cores contain tiny bubbles of ancient atmosphere that were trapped each year as the snow was compressed into ice.” 

Rebecca Anderson, who worked as part of the team, revealed their most interesting find in the archives. 

She said: “Here about 480 metres deep right now is around the time when Jesus lived. 

“We’re at about 0AD, right before when BC years turned into AD.” 


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