5 Things You Didn't Know About The South Pole

On January 18, 1912, English explorer Robert F. Scott and his expedition reached the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had arrived there first. Here are 5 things you didn't know about Antarctica...


It Wasn't Seen by Humans Until 1820 The Russians first spotted Antarctica in 1820, but they didn’t stop by to visit its icy barrenness. It was a Connecticut seal hunter named John Davis who first landed on the shores of Antarctica, supposedly in search of prey to hunt. A Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, arrived on Antarctica in 1911, followed by an expedition led by Englishman Robert F. Scott.

The Largest Desert in The World is in The Antarctic When we think of deserts, we usually think of the Sahara, the Gobi, the Kalahari, etc. Deserts tend to be very warm and sandy. However, the technical criteria for an area to qualify as a desert is just for there to be very little precipitation — less than 25 centimeters per year, to be precise. Most of Antarctica is too cold to allow for precipitation in the form of rain or snow, so approximately 5.5 million square miles of the continent is a desert — the largest desert in the World, in fact. It’s even theorized that some parts of the Antarctic desert haven’t had any form of precipitation for two million years!


Antarctica Has no Time Zones Since we created time zones based on longitude, how do you create a time zone where all of the zones meet? That’s why there is no official time zone for the Antarctic. As a result of this (and the continent’s large size) there is no official time zone for any region of Antarctica. However, the various research stations scattered around the continent tend to observe either the time zone of the country the researchers come from or just the time zone of the nearest country. 

Antarctica is The Only Continent on The Planet Without Reptiles Reptiles fall into one of the five main vertebrate categories, along with birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish. Reptiles come in thousands of different variations, shapes and sizes, and they can be found on every single continent on Earth… except Antarctica. This is because reptiles have no way to warm their bodies up, which means they rely on the sun and the ambient temperature to stay alive. Needless to say, the coldest content on Earth is no friend to reptiles. 

Sled Dogs Are Banned in Antarctica Back in 1911, sled dogs hauled supplies for Norwegian explorers led by Roald Amundsen which was the first expedition to reach the South Pole. Roald Amundsen's expedition was planned around 97 sled dogs. Afterwards, sled dogs were kept and used in Antarctica for years. However, they were banned from the continent in 1993 by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty due to fear that they might transmit diseases such as canine distemper to the Antarctic seals or would escape and disturb the local wildlife.