Wildfires burned Antarctica 75 million years ago, charcoal remnants reveal

Dinosaurs attempt to flee a wildfire on Antarctica during the late Cretaceous. (Image credit: Illustration by Maurilio Oliveira; De Lima, F.J. et al. Polar Research (2021); CC BY 4.0)

Raging wildfires tore through Antarctica 75 million years ago, back when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, a new study finds.

During the late Cretaceous period (100 million to 66 million years ago), one of the warmest periods on Earth, Antarctica’s James Ross Island was home to a temperate forest of conifers, ferns and flowering plants known as angiosperms, as well as to a slew of dinosaurs. But it wasn’t a total paradise; ancient paleo-fires burned parts of those forests to a crisp, leaving behind charcoal remnants that scientists have now scooped up and studied.



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