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No. 45: May-Jun 1986

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When Antarctica Was Green

Something is wrong with our recent history of Antarctica. Conventional wisdom insists that the continent has been ice-covered for over 15 million years. But now Peter Webb and his coworkers have found pollen and the remains of roots and stems of plants in an area stretching some 1300 kilometers along the Transantarctic Mountains. The Antarctic wood is so recent that it floats and burns with ease.

Webb's group postulates that a shrub-like forest grew in Antarctica as recently as 3 million years ago. The dating, of course, is critical, and is certain to be subjected to careful scientific scrutiny. Nevertheless, these deposits of fresh-looking wood do suggest that trees recently grew only 400 miles from the South Pole. Also of interest is the fact that the sedimentary layers containing the wood have been displaced as much as 3000 meters by faults, indicating recent large-scale geological changes.

(Weisburd, S.; "A Forest Grows in Antarctica," Science News, 129:148, 1986.)

From Science Frontiers #45, MAY-JUN 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987