Research findings show climate change is causing the revelation of penguin carcasses due to melted snow.
Climate change is displaying its effects in more significant ways than ever. There are new research findings that are providing evidence for the fact that our planet is going through its adverse effects. According to a new report by The Geological Society of America, scientists have found some well-preserved remains of penguins, credited to the cold climate of Antarctica. The age of these remains that have been mummified, dates back 5,000 years which is interesting because the Ancient Egyptians started practicing mummification centuries later.
In 2016, there were many penguin boneyards spotted in the area of Cape Irizar, along eastern Antarctica’s Ross Sea. Researchers over there found bone and feather evidence of Adelie penguins and they also found carcasses erupting out of fresh snow. This was astonishing because there are no records of any penguin colony in that particular region ever since Robert Falcon Scott along with his explorers discovered the area at the beginning of the 20th century.
Further analysis of the carcasses revealed that they dated back to three periods, the earliest being 5,000 years ago and the most recent being 800 years ago. Due to the extreme climatic conditions and sub-zero temperatures, the bodies were not susceptible to decomposition from microorganisms. The reason behind the penguin mummies pushing out of the ground is a major cause of concern for the entire world: Climate Change. The temperature of the region around the Ross Sea has escalated since the 1980s by 2°C (35.6°F) causing the melting of ice which is now disclosing its hidden relics.
Before this current record, penguins inhabited the region between the Medieval Warm Period (800-1300 CE) and the beginning of the Little Ice Age (1300 CE) when the temperatures averagely ranged around –2°C (28.4°F), way more chilly than the present day and age. Researcher Steven Emslie, a paleoecologist at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, shared, “In all the years I have been doing this research in Antarctica, I've never seen a site quite like this.
We excavated into three of these mounds, using methods similar to archaeologists, to recover preserved tissues of penguin bone, feathers, and eggshells, as well as hard parts of prey from the guano (fish bones, otoliths).” Emslie further added, “The soil was very dry and dusty, just as I’ve found at other very old sites I’ve worked on in the Ross Sea, and also had abundant penguin remains in them.” She also shared that the frosty conditions of the region probably enveloped the area in thick snow making it challenging for any penguin colony to survive.
The penguin remains are not a unique discovery. According to GeoScience World, the other side of the planet in the Arctic is heating up at three times the pace, resulting in the sudden appearance of the past which includes pathogens and other frozen creatures. What remains to be seen is whether we have destroyed our ‘warm’ future enough to discover all of the past buried under the snow or if is there still time to save it.