Oil on canvas
40x82 cm

Did you know that crocodiles once lived above the arctic circle? Well, not really crocodiles as we know them today, but a giant crocodile-like creature called the “champosaur”. This was about 52 million years ago.

Geologists discovered bones from the animal in a layer of shale on top of a thick layer of basalt. To explain what that means, basalt is created after volcanic eruptions. In this case it was a layer of about 300 meters meaning that this was definitely not from one single eruption, but more likely a steady oozing over thousands of years. The layer of shale, being ancient mud, that was created on top of this showed the scientist that in fact a swamp or lagoon was formed atop the volcanic rock once the volcanoes had settled down. With the discovery of the bones of the champosaur, it was also clear that creatures like giant tortoises and turtles, snakes and fish, flying lemurs, tapirs and hippo-like mammals lived in these areas. Champosaurs were just like today’s crocodile cold-blooded reptiles, indicating that the Arctic once in fact used to be a freshwater lake in a tropical environment with a climate probably closer to today’s climate in Florida.

The reason why it was so hot up here was because of the constant volcanic eruptions during the Cretaceous era, from 144 million to 65 million years ago. They released a whole lot of CO2 into the atmosphere very quickly. As we already know today, this is just direct proof that the CO2 levels do have a huge affect on our climate. Still, if we keep burning fossil fuels like we do today we might even reach those levels the volcanoes reached millions and millions of years ago, except we are choosing to do it. Ironically the fossils we are burning being the remnants of the very creatures that died from climate change. Even though lots of us are longing for a Florida climate through some of our harsh winters, are you really willing to wait to see if you can adapt to a Hot House Earth 2.0?