We asked you five quick trivia questions about Antarctica. Here are the answers:
- Before the world’s land masses formed the existing continents, they were part of two supercontinents. What was the name of the one that Antarctica belonged to?
Gondwana, formerly known as Gondwanaland. The supercontinent formed gradually over 500 million years ago before splitting up into modern-day Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Arabia, India, Australia and New Zealand. The most recent split, between West Antarctica and South America, is believed to have happened “just” 23 million years ago.
- What kind of creatures are the chinstrap and the macaroni?
Penguins. The chinstrap penguin (with a distinctive black line under their chin) is Antarctica’s most common, with nearly eight million pairs living mostly on the Antarctic Peninsula – that’s the bit that sticks up towards Cape Horn. The macaroni penguin is the world’s most common, but most of them live on subantarctic islands. They’re named for a fashionable 18th-century hairstyle because of the orange plumes like eyebrows above their eyes.
- What is the name of the highest mountain on Antarctica?
It’s the Vinson Massif, a mountain 22 km long and 13 km first discovered in 1958 and first climbed in 1966. The highest point on it, Mount Vinson, is 4,892 metres high.
- Which animal frequently indulges in spyhopping?
The killer whale, or orca. Using control of its buoyancy rather than swimming, it hovers almost vertically in the water and raises its “beak” above the waterline so that it can have a good look round – sometimes for minutes on end, if it sees something particularly interesting.
- What are nunataks?
They’re small areas of exposed rock sticking out from under ice sheets and glaciers. Because they’re often more easily accessible than mountains, they’re very useful to Antarctic geologists.
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