Melting Ice Reveals Mummified Penguins in Antarctica

Melting Ice Reveals Mummified Penguins in Antarctica

Birds that appeared “freshly dead” near an Italian research base turned out to be centuries old

In January 2016, Steven Emslie was finishing a season of studying penguin colonies living near Zucchelli Station, an Italian base in Antarctica. With the austral summer quickly coming to a close and all planned work completed, Dr. Emslie, an ornithologist at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, did what any good scientist would do with a few extra days in the Antarctic: He went exploring.

He had heard rumors of penguin guano on a rocky cape along the Scott Coast but knew of no active colonies there. Curious, he arranged for a helicopter flight to the area and had a look around.

“Since Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton had explored the area over a hundred years ago and hadn’t written about any penguins at this particular site, I didn’t expect to see much since they always wrote about penguins when they saw them,” he said.

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