Many people hope to come back from a wildlife safari with close-up pictures of lions or elephants – this picture below is my best attempt from a search for the largest land animals in Antarctica.
If you look hard you can see a reddish blob at the tip of the thumb — it’s Antarctica’s most aggressive land predator, an eight-legged mite known as Rhagidia.
Pete Convey, a biologist at the British Antarctic Survey (that’s his thumb), says that such tiny creatures evolved in Antarctica over tens of millions of years — they can freeze their bodies in winter in an extreme form of hibernation.
Penguins, seals and whales are the best known animals in Antarctica, but none live year-round on land, where the biggest creature is a flightless midge whose name is ”Belgica antarctica” and who’s about 0.5 cm long.
Global warming could mean problems for some of these tiny creatures if it keeps going — the Antarctic Peninsula where Pete showed us the creatures has warmed by about 3 Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) over the past 50 years, the fastest rate in the southern hemisphere.