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Still Waters

'Antarctic king' reptile fossil discovered

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Still Waters

Wildlife in Antarctica conjures up images of penguins, seals and other animals who have adapted to survive in such a harsh, frozen environment. But researchers have made an unexpected discovery that pulls back the curtain on what life may have been like in Antarctica millions of years ago.

Instead of miles of ice and icebergs as far as the eye can see, Antarctica was a lush land full of forests and rivers 250 million years ago. And this landscape supported a diverse set of wildlife, including reptiles. Back then, it was rare for the temperature to drop near freezing or below it.

Now, researchers have found a fossil of a previously unknown species, an iguana-sized reptile that was an early relative of the dinosaurs in Antarctica. It's been named Antarctanax shackletoni. The first name translates to "Antarctic king," and the second name is in honor of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.


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