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Frozen in Time: Prehistoric life in Antarctica - new book

In its transition from rich biodiversity to the barren, cold land of blizzards we see today, Antarctica provides a dramatic case study of how subtle changes in continental positioning can affect living communities, and how rapidly catastrophic changes can come about. Frozen in Time reconstructs Antarctica’s evolving animal and plant communities as accurately as the fossil record permits.

Antarctica: from paradise to polar ice


No other continent on Earth has undergone such radical environmental changes as Antarctica.

According to a new book, Frozen in Time: Prehistoric life in Antarctica, by Dr Jeffrey Stilwell from the School of Geosciences at Monash University and John Long from the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles County, Antarctica has gone from paradise to polar ice in just a few million years, a geological blink of an eye when we consider the real age of Earth.

In its transition from rich biodiversity to the barren, cold land of blizzards we see today, Antarctica provides a dramatic case study of how subtle changes in continental positioning can affect living communities, and how rapidly catastrophic changes can come about.


Frozen in Time presents a comprehensive overview of the fossil record of Antarctica framed within its changing environmental settings, providing a window into a past time and environment on the continent.

It reconstructs Antarctica’s evolving animal and plant communities as accurately as the fossil record permits.

From the story of how fossils were first discovered in Antarctica to modern day expeditions through remote sites, Frozen in Time presents a clear guide to the palaeontology of Antarctica. The publication provides an overview of the discovery and exploration of the continent to contemporary issues of heritage and preservation including the major impacts of climate change.

Chapter highlights include the age of fish and ferns, giant amphibians and hairy reptiles, volcanic lakes and early dinosaurs, when giant reptiles swam in southern seas, killer birds, giant penguins and early mammals.

Jeffrey Stilwell is a Senior Lecturer and Leader of the Applied Palaeontology and Basin Studies Group in the School of Geosciences at Monash University. Dr Stilwell is also an Honorary Research Associate at the Australian Museum, specialising in ancient greenhouse Earth environments and equator-to-south-polar ecosystems.

Dr Stilwell is the author of five monographs and more than 60 peer-reviewed research papers, including many on the fossil record of Antarctica. He has participated on five major expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula and Transantarctic Mountains/McMurdo Sound.

John Long is an Australian palaeontologist and the Vice President of Research and Collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. He has authored some 26 books, including The Rise of Fishes and Feathered Dinosaurs. His research has focused on the early evolution of fishes, especially from Australia and Antarctica.

Frozen in Time: Prehistoric life in Antarctica (248 pages, illustrated, RRP $69.95) is published by CSIRO Publishing and will be available online and at bookstores from October 2011.

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