Antarctica wasn’t always a vast barren land of ice and snow. It has undergone more extreme environmental changes than any other continent on Earth, write Jeffrey Stilwell and John Long in their exploration of Antarctica’s geological and evolutionary history. As landmasses shifted, “Antarctica has gone from paradise to polar ice in just a few million years of time, a geological blink of an eye.” In fact, the continent’s polar climate did not develop until the Early Pleistocene, which began approximately 2.5 million years ago as shifting plate tectonics altered the circulation of ocean currents.
With complementary specialties – Stilwell’s in ancient Earth environments and Long’s in the early evolution of Australian and Antarctic fish – the authors combine their expertise to link the geological history of Antarctica to the organisms that inhabited the land through an exhaustive review of the fossil record. Though it can be overly technical in its treatment of geological time, this book provides an everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know guide to the prehistory of Antarctica. Most compelling are the stunning photographs of the Antarctic landscape and the remarkable archaeological finds that have allowed researchers to investigate the evolution of life there.