In the previous post, we looked at Antarctica and some of the reasons why it is such an important source of clues about earth's ancient past. Specifically, there is evidence in the remains of animals and plants that Antarctica was once home to temperate species that could not possibly survive there in the climate of today.
Even if we assume that earth's climate was once much warmer than it is today, it is difficult to argue that regions well within the Antarctic Circle could have supported abundant plants and animals -- the low angle of the sunlight when it is present, and the complete absence of sunlight during the winter, would make such regions inhospitable even on a relatively warmer earth.
Similar fossils of plants and animals have also been found far to the north, well within the Arctic Circle, on islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago very close to Greenland. For decades, scientists have studied and written about the extensive remains of forests and animal life on Ellesmere Island and Axel Heiberg Island. This article from the Review of Paleobotany and Palynology describes the remains of "extensive forests in areas which today support only tundra."
The report describes evidence of several generations of pines and metasequoias, extensive forest floor leaf litter, flowering plants, ginkgo trees and two species of magnolias! Other reports have described the remains of crocodilian reptiles, apes, dinosaurs, and evidence of swamps.
The conventional explanation for all this evidence is that the earth has simply experienced lots of climate change over the eons, and was simply much warmer hundreds of millions of years ago. However, as noted previously, some of the wood from Antarctic regions is not even fossilized and still burns and floats -- if the earth has experienced slow climate change over millions of years, we would expect any non-fossilized wood to have rotted away long before the ice sheets arrived. It's not as though the climate supported trees one day and the next day turned to sub-zero temperatures and grew massive sheets of ice. Normal wood would decay during the transitional period of years.
Because the conventional paradigm refuses to entertain catastrophic explanations, it has been left to outsiders to try to connect the dots. Rand and Rose Flem-Ath have recognized the significant problems to conventional theory posed by the evidence in the Arctic and the Antarctic and have put forward an alternative theory first introduced by Professor Charles Hapgood (1904 - 1982). This theory, called the earth-crust displacement theory, proposes a mechanism whereby the crust of the earth could actually shift in response to powerful forces of physics, and this could have moved regions that were formerly outside of the Arctic and Antarctic Circles into those much colder regions.
In a fascinating interview on Red Ice Radio in August of 2009, Rand Flem-Ath explained this theory and how it would explain not only the mysteries of the Arctic fossils but also the legends found in cultures around the world of a lost island homeland, which the Flem-Aths believe could have been Antarctica and which could have been the origin of Plato's description of Atlantis. To hear the first hour of the interview as a podcast, look for the orange "RSS" button under the word "Subscribe" on the interview page (or go to the iTunes store and search for Red Ice Radio under the podcast section), or subscribe to Red Ice Creations to get access to both hours of the interview as well as all the archives of interviews for the past five years.
While I believe that the earth-crust displacement theory is better than the conventional assertion that the climate in the past was simply warm enough to support lush forests, swamps, and wildlife within the Arctic and Antarctic Circles where it is dark half the year, I also believe that the earth-crust displacement theory suffers from many problems. Most fundamentally, as Mr. Flem-Ath admits in the interview above, the catalyst which would cause such crustal shifting is still unknown, and only speculative theories have been proposed so far. However, the basic concept of the explanation -- that there was a catastrophic event which resulted in a shift in the location of points on the earth, resulting in land that was once at lower latitudes being rotated up into Arctic latitudes and down into Antarctic latitudes -- may be quite correct.
The hydroplate theory of Walt Brown explains how such a shift could have been initiated by the events surrounding a catastrophic global flood. Dr. Brown's theory, which can be seen in its entirety on line, explains these events here in some detail. If you continue down that long page, you will find a section entitled "Earth Roll" about three-quarters of the way down, under the section describing the "Recovery Phase" of the catastrophe. His theory explains the forces that would have led to a roll of the entire earth (rather than just the crust), roughly along longitude 85o west -- which would mean that Ellesmere Island and Axel Heiberg Island experienced the most roll.
Interestingly, Mr. Flem-Ath (who apparently has not heard of Brown's hydroplate theory, since in the interview he states that the earth-crust displacement theory is the only alternative theory he knows which addresses the Arctic fossil problem) comes up with the same general longitude of the shift and mentions it in the above interview, along with the very helpful analogy of describing the earth as a basketball held between your two hands: if you rotate it by simply turning your wrists, the area under your palms won't change latitude very much at all, but the area on the line that moves upwards towards your nose will change latitude quite a lot. That line was around the line we call 85o west longitude today.
We have also seen that Dr. Brown's theory explains numerous geological features found today on earth that other theories cannot, such as the gravity anomalies of deep ocean trenches. His book describes hundreds of others in detail. Dr. Brown's theory would also explain many unsolved mysteries found in human archaeology, such as submerged ruins found beneath hundreds of feet of seawater.
I wholeheartedly commend the Flem-Aths for their advocacy of the theories of the late Professor Hapgood, whose extensive work I also greatly respect, and for their tremendous and ongoing contribution to the discussion about mankind's ancient past and the connection between human history and geology. Even though I don't agree that the crustal-displacement theory is the best solution, their argument about a possible connection between Plato's Atlantis and the island continent of Antarctica is fascinating and plausible, and I very much hope to meet them someday in person.