25 Things You Didn't Know About Antarctica

It's the coldest, windiest, and (arguably) loneliest place on the planet: Antarctica. But did you know that the bottom of the world has a bar? And that large parts of Antarctica used to be a rain forest?

There are a ton of Antarctica facts to learn about this desolate place - from information on its history that only scientists or the few rare tourists know, to its unique geography and what it's like to work on a research base.

Here's a closer look at the secrets Earth's newest continent has to offer.

  • There Are Mountains Under the Ice

    There Are Mountains Under the Ice
    Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UC Irvine / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 1958, scientists made a startling discovery under the ice in Antarctica: mountains! The Gamburstev Mountains were discovered when scientists trekking across ice two miles thick suddenly found themselves on thin ice.

    Beneath the ice they found a mountain range with peaks 9,000 feet high, stretching for 750 miles.

  • Antarctica Has Two ATM Machines

    Believe it or not, if you need some quick cash at the McMurdo Station - the largest scientific research station on the continent - you're in luck because Wells Fargo installed two ATMs there in 1998. McMurdo is essentially a small town, with coffee shops, a general store, a post office, etc. This closed micro-economy needs cold hard cash to function properly.

    Only one of the two machines is operable at any given time, and the trustworthy crew at McMurdo has been trained to repair the machines - swapping parts back and forth if need be.

  • Antarctica Has a Blood-Red Waterfall

    Antarctica Has a Blood-Red Waterfall
    Photo: National Science Foundation/Peter Rejcek / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    This nightmare fuel looks like a deleted scene from The Shining, but is actually caused by ferrous hydroxide, an iron-containing salt. The blood-red salt sludge is basically leaking out of a glacier after a process scientists think took millions of years.

    Researchers and visitors refer to this horror show as "Blood Falls."

  • There's Only One Insect in Antarctica

    There's Only One Insect in Antarctica
    Photo: Tasteofcrayons / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Insect lovers living in Antarctica only have one species to observe: Belgica antarctica. This wingless fly is also the continent's largest terrestrial animal at just 2-6 millimeters long. It's also quite a trooper: as a larva, it survives the total freezing of its bodily fluids.

  • Metallica Played a Concert in Antarctica

    In 2013, heavy metal legends Metallica became the first band to play in Antarctica when they performed for a crowd of 120 in a protective dome on the continent. The name of the show? "Freeze 'Em All," of course!

    The crowd had to wear headphones during the show in order to protect the local wildlife from the damaging amplification.

  • There's a Crystal-Spewing Volcano

    There's a Crystal-Spewing Volcano
    Photo: William D. Tribble, LTJG / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    One of the more fantastical things happening at the bottom of our planet is an active volcano called Mount Erebus that literally spews crystals. These unusually large minerals are called anorthoclase, which is apparently a type of feldspar (if that helps clarify things for you).

    Scientists with the United States Antarctic Program say these volcanic crystals are "not well understood" but Erebus has been spewing them on the regular since the 1970s.