These days, the Norse Gods are remnants of a barely-there
Antarctica is the oddest of the continents – it’s the only one that we have only mapped indirectly, the only one without human inhabitants, and the coldest desert on Earth.
It’s name basically means “not north”
The word “Antarctica” is a romanized version of the Greek word “antarktikos,” which literally means “opposite to the north.”
People originally thought it acted as a counterweight to Europe, Asia and Africa
In the 1st century AD, the Greco-Egyptian writer Claudius Ptolemy suggested that a massive continent existed far to the south to balance the globe.
After they found Australia, they thought Antarctica couldn’t exist
When Europeans discovered Australia in the late 17th century, they thought that that had to be the continent that Ptolemy was thinking of. Explorer Matthew Flinders wrote: “There is no probability, that any other detached body of land, of nearly equal extent, will ever be found in a more southern latitude (than Australia).”
It has lakes under the ice
Antarctica has over 70 lakes underneath the ice, the largest of which is Lake Vostok, which was estimated to have been sealed off for 500,000 to one million years (although evidence suggests that there are often large water flows between the lakes under the ice.
It used to be tropical and forested
Over 170 million years ago, Antarctica was part of the supercontinent Gondwana (which was more or less the lower half of the broken-up Pangea). This means that during the Cambrian period, Antarctica was partly in the Northern hemisphere, spanning across the equator.
It is a desert
Today, Antarctica is extremely cold (coldest place on the planet), and receives very little precipitation across most of its surface, making it a desert. The South Pole only ever receives about four inches of snow each year.
There are people there
More people than you might expect, in fact. Due to the various permanent scientific outposts on the continent, the population ranges between 1,000 (winter) and 5,000 (summer) people.
No dogs are allowed
When people first came to Antarctica, they brought sled dogs along. However, they kept killing the penguins, so now all foreign plants and animals are banned.
11 children have been born in Antarctica
The first child to be born in Antarctica was a Norwegian girl named Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen. By today, 11 children have been born in Antarctica.