The 280 million-year-old forest in the South Pole

(CNN)Antarctica as we know it is a frosty wilderness covered in thick compacted ice.

But a recent scientific discovery suggests that the vast white continent was home to leafy forests, some 280 million years ago.
During the last Antarctic summer, geologist Erik Gulbranson and a team of polar scientists chanced upon fossils from the oldest polar forest found on the continent -- before the first dinosaurs walked the Earth.