Antarctica Fossils on Display at The Burke Museum

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Antarctica fossils

Burke Museum and University of Washington paleontologists discovered more than 100 fossils on an 11-week expedition to Antarctica, according to a Burke Museum news release.

Some of those fossils will be on display in the Burke Museum's "Testing, Testing 1-2-3: Work in Progress" exhibit through June 10. The fossils will then be prepared for research.

The release states that the multi-institution research team found fossil bones, trace fossils and plant impressions that show what life was like about 250 million years ago.

"In the past, we've known which families of amphibians have been there but not which species," Christian Sidor, Burke Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology and UW professor said in the release. "Because we found so many (amphibian fossils) and they're so well-preserved, we'll be able to tackle that question and know what species of amphibians lived in Antarctica after the mass extinction."

According to the release, the Antarctic fossil record is one of the least understood in the world, partially because of factors like extreme conditions. 

During the expedition, the team's only way of accessing the mountainsides where they worked was by helicopter.

"We're working on the mountainsides -- the tips of mountain sticking through the glacier," Sidor said in the release. "We use our knowledge of the geology and sedimentology to understand where fossils are likely to be found."

One of the areas the team focused on was a rock formation that is about 230 to 250 million years old.

Antarctic fossils from past expeditions will also be on display at the new Burke Museum when it opens in fall 2019.