Antarctica. Interesting facts for children, finds, discoveries

Annually the most mysterious and coldest continent of the planet excites scientists with interesting discoveries, unusual facts, and fossil remains of long-extinct animals found in permafrost.

Although the ice kingdom extends over 14,107,000 km2. Antarctica is the only place where there are no permanent human dwellings, only 89 seasonal or permanent scientific stations.

The thickness of the ice cover can reach 2.5 km, and the wind speed during the winter months sometimes exceeds 322 km/h. At the same time, Antarctica is not lifeless, a few animals and plants were able to adapt even in this icy desert.

History of discoveries and finds

In the XVIII century. members of the James Cook expedition crossed the Antarctic Circle more than once and even reached 71 degrees south latitude, approaching the South Sandwich Islands. After the completion of the voyage, Captain Cook proclaimed that there was no big land in the southern latitudes.

People did not suspect about the unusual ice-covered continent until 1820, when Antarctica was discovered by a Russian expedition led by F. Bellingshausen and M. Lazarev.

Another 20 years, the continent was considered a major island. Over the years of studying the harsh land, extraordinary discoveries and finds were made.

Fossils in permafrost

The first fossil bones of the ancient lizards were found in 1986, since then each year, paleontologists replenish the list of ancient inhabitants of the planet:

Date Terrain Finds Epoch
1892Northern end of the Antarctic Peninsulapetrified wood of southern beechPleistocene
1989Island of VegaIncomplete scattered Skeleton of the MORROSAURUS AntARCTICUS travelerend of the chalk period
1990The slopes of the Kerkpatrick mountain in the transatlantic arraySkull of a major predator Cryolophosaurus ElliotiEarly Jurassic period
2007Simor IslandFragments of the foot imperobator antarcticusof the middle of the Jurassic period [1 04]
2017Isle of James RossSkeleton without a skull of a large sea plesiosaurus of the genus Elasmosaurusof the chalk period
2019Formre formation in the transntorctic mountainsFragments of the Skeleton AntarCTANAX SHACKLETONI, the early relative of the dinosaursMiddle Triassic

During the study, more than a ton of bones of fossil animals were found.

Martian meteorite ALLAN HILLS 84001

In December 1984, a meteorite was discovered on the slope of the Allan Hills mountain system, in the structure of which microscopic carbonate discs were kept. The researchers determined that the age of the find exceeds 4 billion years, he dropped around 13 thousand years ago to land.

Presumably, this is a piece of rocks of Mars, shaped with a larger meteorite and thrown into the solar system. Under a powerful microscope, microscopic fossils were found, belonging to tape recorded bacteria living in an aqueous medium, surface and underground sediments.

the most unusual natural places

Antarctica (interesting facts about it are often associated with an unusual relief) - this is a mainland, where the sharp tops of the mountains are hidden, extensive lakes and deep abyss, Size superior to the famous Grand Canyon in the USA.

The Transatlantic Mountain Range

The mountain range that divides the mainland across the land stretches between the northern part of Victoria Land (Cape Adair) and Coats Land for more than 3500 km. In some places, the array consisting of separate systems is one of the longest on earth. The average height of the ridges is 1800-3200 m, the highest peak is Queen Alexandra (4528 m).

It divides Antarctica into 2 parts of different origin and geological structure:

  • Eastern, with a relatively even smoothed relief, alternation of low hills with separate plateaus and mountain ranges up to 3-4 km high.
  • Western, lying in the area of ​​new folding. Modern studies have shown that it consists of a group of unevenly high mountainous islands connected by glaciers. Here, conical mountain peaks alternate with plains of ice shelves and deep sinkholes.

The ridge was formed over a billion years ago, as a result of the collision of two continents that formed the supercontinent Rodinia.

Bentley Trench

In the western part of Antarctica, on Mary Byrd Land, there is the deepest waterless point on Earth : the bottom of an ice-filled depression 2540 m below world sea level. The failure begins at the base of the high mountain ranges of the Ellsworth system, and presumably was formed simultaneously with them after a powerful shift of the lithospheric plates.

A huge natural fault was discovered in 1961 by the expedition of Charles Bentley, after whom it was named.

Dry Valleys

To the west of McMurdo Sound, between the ridges are the Dry Valleys, rare areas of Antarctica free of ice buildup. The total area of ​​three depressions dug by the movement of ancient glaciers is 8000 square meters. km.

The dark stones that cover the surface heat up noticeably in the never-setting summer sun, raising the temperature of the air around. Most of the land receives only 60-70 mm of precipitation per year, but the rainfall in this area does not exceed 25 mm.

An interesting fact: there are sand dunes in Antarctica

Constantly blowing cold and dry katabatic winds evaporate drops of moisture in the air. Temperature fluctuations, strong winds and cryogenic weathering give granite rocks bizarre shapes. Sand dunes up to 200 m long have been observed in the lowlands.

NASA experts believe that the extreme climate of this arid region is identical to the conditions on the surface of Mars. However, in this area, where liquid precipitation has not fallen for millions of years, colonies of various anaerobic bacteria have been found.

A tremendous lake East

Nicely treated lake was discovered near the Russian Research Station, 15 mil. years ago, cut off by the glacier from the outside world. Its area exceeds 16 thousand square meters. km, and at a depth of 800-1200 m beat underwater geothermal sources that do not allow water to freeze.

The true age and composition of water in the lake is still unknown. Subject to the absence of external sources, the lake is replenished due to the melt of water from glaciers, then its age can have thousands of years. The heavy pressure of the overlying ice and geothermal heat sources support the liquid state of the water, the temperature of which does not rise above -3 ° C.

The bottom of the long narrow basin crosses the high dark ridge, from the faults of which geothermal water is erupted with a temperature of up to 400 ° C. Studies continue, there is a chance that a unique ecosystem will be detected in warm water, evolving in the closed space of the reservoir.

Lake Vard

In the housing oasis of Wright, a large salty salt lake of Varda is located, whose surface is even in the summer of ice. The length of the reservoir is about 8 km, the maximum depth is 66-68 m. It is considered the deepest of the numerous lakes of the continent. Surface layers of Varda nourishes the full-water river Onyx 30 km long.

Antarctica (interesting facts can be found in this article) is a mainland, where under the layers of ice thickness up to 4 m is liquid warm water. And the deeper the level of the study, the higher the temperature: from 0-3 ° C near the surface to quite comfortable +25 ° C at a depth of 50-60 m.

The concentration of salt in the lake water increases with the depth, about the bottom it is 10-15 times the salinity of sea water. Cooking ice guarding deep warm water from getting out.

3 layers with different water temperatures were found:

  • 0 + 4 ° C under ice cover;
  • + 7 + 9 ° C at a depth of 15-35 m;
  • + 23 + 26 ° C near the bottom.

In 2017, the group of scientists was tested by the hypothesis that the water in the Ward lake was heated due to heat flowing down from the depths of the earth's crust.

Amazing Flora

Most of the soils of most areas of Antarctica are the least diverse habitats on Earth. The exclusion is the lively coast and the mountain slopes warmed by the rays.

It is interesting that trees and shrubs do not grow in Antarctica, in fact only 2 species of flowering plants have been recorded, but various mosses, lichens, algae and microscopic fungi have adapted perfectly. Their cells contain little water, and all processes are extremely slow.

Chickweed (Colobanthus crassifolius)

A small plant from the Carnation family common in the moss-lichen deserts of Antarctica. With the onset of spring, green low bushes appear with small yellow or white flowers and pale green leaves.

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Plant height does not exceed 5 cm, in places they form small flowering clearings. Perfectly adapted to weather conditions, frosts do not harm chickweed even during the flowering period.

Antarctic meadow grass (Deschampsia antarctica)

The study of permafrost showed that dense sod grasses were common in the valleys of Antarctica as early as the Middle Holocene.

Unpretentious grass nestles between stones, in secluded crevices and on sunny slopes. Due to the rigidity of the leaves, it is not considered a forage species.

Fauna

Animal life is not diverse, surviving in conditions of extreme cold, intense ultraviolet radiation and very high salt content in the environment. Most of the inhabitants spend the spring and short summer on the ice, migrating to warmer regions for cold weather.

Antarctic blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

Although the blue whale's historical range covers the entire world's oceans, the northern subspecies prefers to feed in cold water near the edge of the drifting Antarctic ice. The largest of all animals that lived on the planet reaches a length of 29-33 m and can weigh up to 150 tons. The average speed is 8-13 km / h, when frightened, it can accelerate up to 25 km / h.

During the observation, scientists identified 10 populations of Antarctic whales. Usually they keep alone, in feeding places 2-3 individuals can bare at the same time. With a good food base, an adult blue whale eats up to 1 ton of small krill and crustaceans. To collect plankton, the whale dives under water for 10-15 minutes.

After a long immersion, a blowhole on the top of the head and a small dorsal fin first appear on the surface of the water. In icy water, the dense gray skin with a bluish tint is covered with a thin coating of microscopic diatoms, giving the huge animal a mystical yellow-greenish hue.

Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri)

The largest and heaviest birds of the Penguin family form large colonies on coastal ice. Biologists have counted 38 permanent colonies, consisting of 300-10,000 birds.

Emperor penguins have few natural enemies on land and can live up to 25 years. Color (black feathers on the back and wings, white on the abdomen) helps the penguins to remain invisible under water.

During hunting, they move at a speed of 49-53 km/h, are able to dive to a depth of 500 m and stay at a depth of up to 15 minutes. The diet consists of squid, fish and krill: small prey is swallowed immediately, a larger carcass is pulled out by the penguin onto the ice and butchered on land.

To raise offspring, they migrate inland. The breeding season falls on warm May-June, and the chick that has appeared 66-90 days old is fed and protected by the parents in turn. They are the only warm-blooded inhabitants of Antarctica who spend the winter there.

Southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus)

Huge birds with a wingspan of up to two meters are the main and most visible component of the Antarctic fauna. Large predators feed on the chicks of other birds, catch fish and various cephalopods, and do not disdain coastal carrion. The plumage is gray or brown, occasionally there are completely snow-white individuals.

Secluded places far from populated scientific stations are chosen for nesting. They nest on the flat tops of high hills and rocks. At the end of November, with the onset of spring warmth, the couple lays a single egg. The grown chick will take to the wing only in March-early April.

With the exception of the mating season, adult birds are perfectly adapted to difficult weather conditions and spend their lives at sea.

The leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx)

Is the dominant predator of the region, preying on seals and penguins, although it does not abandon fish and small krill. Young animals gather in groups of 3-5 individuals, adults prefer to hunt alone.

A large predator is well adapted to life in cold climates:

  • speed up to 40 km/h;
  • Synchronized strokes of the elongated front fins help to dive to a depth of 300 m;
  • Dark back and silver-gray belly with numerous dark spots completely hide the predator in the water;
  • A deep and powerful mouth, seated with two rows of sharp fangs 2.5 cm long, ensures successful hunting.
  • The thick layer of subcutaneous fat retains heat, allowing the clock is in ice water.

Ross Seal (Ommatophoca Rossii)

The most rare type of seal prefers to settle in hard-to-reach places of powerful packages of packing ice, without falling into the eyes of researchers. During the marriage season and molts, they arrange fokers on seasonal sea ice, the rest of the life is carried out in the open ocean.

The females are noticeably larger than males: the body length can reach 2 m, the weight does not exceed 200-220 kg. In adults, the subcutaneous fat layer is extremely developed, the main part is concentrated around the short massive neck of the animal. The skin is covered with short tight six: the back and the sides are painted into dark gray or brown, the abdomen is much lighter.

hunt fish and chalp clams, capable of water under water up to 40 minutes. Approximate population number of 150 thousand individuals.

White fish

Antarctica (interesting facts about its inhabitants are associated with the characteristics of the climate) - this is a mainland, where ice water near the coast contains a record amount of oxygen. This allows the Fishes of the Channichthyidae family to have a partially or completely transparent body and exist without red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood.

In cold weather, the familiar red blood becomes viscous and thick, it makes it difficult to live life and even killing a living being. The physiology of "Ice fish" allows you to transport oxygen from the water immediately in the plasma, providing them with all parts of the body. The skin and fins are a set of capillaries, which absorb oxygen from water.

For successful adaptation, representatives of the species pay slow growth, greater heartbarriness and low speed.

Bellish Belgica Antarctida

tiny, a tiny overlooking insect is an endemic, successfully surviving in conditions of extremely low temperatures and strong winds. The period of development of the larva exceeds 2 years. And the life of an adult individual is only 5-7 days.

Researchers found out that the endurance of the midge is due to its unusually short genome. Consisting of 99 million pairs of DNA building blocks. Insects existed to the Pleistocene era and managed to survive the most ill-friendly flying of glaciation.

The most unusual sights

Thanks to modern research methods, scientists managed to find many unexpected landscape phenomena and amazing natural places.

Volcanoes hidden under ice

in 2018 A group of scientists from the University of Edinburgh (University of EDINBURGH) found a mountain system under the layer of perpetual ice, including 91 sleeping volcano. We are 2 km below the ice cover of Western Antarctica, they are part of the Antarctic volcanic belt, stretching along the Earth's coast of Mary Bard and Estsurta Earth.

The height of the cast ridge ranges from 120 to 2850 m, the Calder diameters also differ, from 1600 to 5400 m. Scientists are confident that the size of the largest found volcano Equal or even exceeds the dimensions of the Yellowstone volcano in the United States, which is considered the largest and dangerous on the planet.

Before the opening of 2018, 47 sleeping and existing volcanoes were known in Antarctica, some are surrounded by active fumarols that melt ice. The largest of them, Erebus on Ross Island, reaches a height of 3794 m and is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. In his crater, there is a large lake of hot lava.

Bloody Waterfall

Antarctica (interesting facts about the mainland are presented below) - this is a mainland, where In 1911, Griffith Taylor discovered in the dry valleys of McMarto (East Antarctic) Orange waterfall flowing through the snow-white glacier.

The water in it comes from the treated lake with a depth of 400 m, located at a distance of 1 km. Plastic water of the reservoir formed more than 3 mil. years ago, rich in dissolved iron, sulfates and minerals.

In 2004, a team of scientists under the leadership of Jill Mikucki found out: the unusual color of water gives microorganisms. In the absence of light and oxygen, creatures exist due to chemical reactions of conversion of trivalent iron into a divalent.

When leaving the surface, the restored metal is quickly oxidized, forming rust. It is she who gives the waterfall his bloody shade.

coordinates of spinning 162 ° 15,809; 77 ° 43,365, you can only get to the waterfall on the helicopter.

Wilx Earth Crater

In 2006, scientists studying images from NASA satellites discovered a major treated crater, presumably from the fall of a large asteroid. The diameter of the found funnel exceeds 482 m. The object is 1.6 km under ice, in the Wilkes Land area (Wilx Earth) in East Antarctica.

Studies 2018 confirmed the apparent structural deformation of the relief and the presence of a border corresponding to the peculiarities of known impact crater. The funnel formed about 250 mil. years ago, in the Perm-Triassic period, perhaps provoking mass extinction.

Hollow Ice Towers

on the slopes of the active volcano Erebus, the most southern on the planet, researchers and tourists noted the high ice cones appearing in unexpected places. Fancy forms of ice are formed in the Output places of Fumarole - cracks, from which hot steam is distinguished.

When the hot moisture occurs with cold air, it freezes, forming ice structures that sometimes reach more than 10 meters in height.

Inside facilities, wet and warm air remains, the thickness of the ice walls may exceed 2-3 m. Due to the constant steam emission of the tower, the shape and dimensions are changed and expanded. Often, noticeable clouds of steam with methane and hydrogen impurities are broken from the cones.

The study of Antarctica continues, which means that new interesting discoveries and facts associated with the cold southern mainland will appear.

Video on Antarctica

Interesting facts about Antarctica: