Start date:
Late November
End date:
Mid January
Dry Valleys, Wright Valley, Horseshoe Mountain, Mount Fleming, Beacon Valley, Beacon Heights, Maya Aztec Mountains, Mount Crean, Lashly Mountains
Principle Investigator:
Dr Neil Shubin
University of Chicago
Understanding the relationships and history of sharks, fish, and limbed animals forms the backbone for both basic and applied science because fish often serve as models of human traits and diseases. Some of the main lines of evidence for these relationships come from fossils in rocks over 380 million years old that were originally deposited by ancient rivers and streams. Because rocks of this type and age are abundantly exposed on the flanks of mountains in Antarctica, the investigation of these areas holds exceptional promise for discoveries that can have a broad impact. Researchers hope to uncover fossilized vertebrates that may provide data on the emergence of anatomical structures, fauna, and habitats during a critical moment of evolution.
Team members will make an initial helicopter recconaissance flight from McMurdo to the Dry Valleys to select three separate field camp sites, and to determine the best sampling locations. A group of six, including one mountaineer, will then tent camp at the chosen sites for eight days at a time. They will travel by foot from their field camps to their sampling locations, where they will use hand tools (crowbars, sledge hammers, and chisels) to unearth and remove exposed fossils. Collected fossils will be transported to back to McMurdo Station by helicopter between campsite moves.