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The Frozen Garden of Eden: Vertebrate Paleontology in Antarctica

Photo: Thomas Mörs

Base camp during field work on Antarctica 2016. Photo: Benjamin Bomfleur

Summary

The Antarctic continent exposes Permian to Miocene strata, allowing a keyhole view into the evolution of Antarctic biota and ecosystems. It is an important place to understand the crucial biogeographic faunal turnover at the K/T (K/Pg) mass extinction.

The Antarctic Peninsula is also important as the dispersal corridor between South America and Australia. It is also the place to find more information about Antarctic biodiversity and paleoecology before, during, and after the dramatic Late Eocene cooling.

The goal of this project is to explore Triassic, Jurassic and Late Cretaceous to Eocene deposits for fossils, with a focus on vertebrates.

During the SWEDARP 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2014/15 expeditions and the GANOVEX IX 2015/16 expedition we collected thousands of vertebrate fossils as well as invertebrates and plants. As a result, the Swedish Museum of Natural History today houses one of the largest collections of Antarctic fossils. There have been several new scientific results based on this material:

This research is funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR, 2010 – 2015), Riksmusei vänner (2016), Ymer-80 (2017-2019) and the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat

External Project Participants

Marcelo Reguero, Museo de La Plata, Argentina

Jürgen Kriwet, University Vienna, Austria

Benjamin Bomfleur, University of Münster, Germany

Piotr Jadwiszczak, University of Bialystok

Javier Gelfo, Museo de La Plata, Argentina

Cathrin Pfaff, University Vienna, Austria

Thomas Tütken, University of Mainz, Germany

Urszula Hara, Polish Geological Institute-National Research Institute, Poland 

Andreas Läufer, Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe, Hannover, Germany

Andrea Engelbrecht, University Vienna, Austria

Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki, Uppsala University, Sweden

Laura Crispini, University of Genova, Italy

Carolina Loch, University of Otago, New Zealand

Monica Buono, Instituto Patagónico de Geología y Paleontología, Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Davit Vasilyan, JURASSICA Museum, Porrentruy, Switzerland

Guiseppe Marrama, University Vienna, Austria