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Who Discovered Antarctica?

At the southernmost portion of the Earth lies a continent known as Antarctica. It is a landmass that is underlying the South Pole, encircled by the Southern Ocean, and lies completely south of Antarctic Circle in the Antarctic region. The continent of Antarctica is considered to be the driest, coldest, and windiest of all the continents on the Earth and it also has the highest average elevation. Permanent residents are nowhere to be found in this area but there are thousands of researchers who are spread out across the continent residing at their various research stations.

Who Discovered Antarctica

Since the time of Ptolemy, there is already an existing notion that Southern Land or Terra Australis existed to balance the landmasses of the north. Maps during the 16th century were already depicting large landmass on the southern part of the Earth. This hypothetical landmass is constantly present in any European map until the 18th century.

Captain James Cook is the one who discovered Antarctica while crossing the Antarctic Circle on January 17, 1773 with the ships HMS Resolution and Adventure. There are confirmed first sightings of persons who discovered Antarctica in the 1820s. These are Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen on January 27,1820, Edward Bransfield on January 30, 1820, and Nathaniel Palmer on November 1820. On February 7, 1821, an American sealer by the name of John Davis made the first documented landing in West Antarctica though there are some controversy regarding this claim.

Other People Who Discovered Antarctica

An expedition supervised by the United States Navy is done from 1838-42 called the Wilkes Expedition. On December 1839, this expedition is the one who discovered Antarctica while sailing into the Antarctic Ocean from Sydney, Australia and they name that part of land as Wilkes Land.

James Clark Ross is an explorer who discovered Antarctica in 1841 by passing through the part known today as Ross Sea. He also discovered the Ross Island, Ross Ice Shelf, Mount Terror, and Mount Erebus. And on January 26, 1853, a man named Mercator Cooper made his landing in East Antarctica.

Even if there are many claims with regards to the discovery of Antarctica, the whole continent has been neglected up to the 19th century because of isolation, scarcity of resources, and hostility of the environment. The name ‘Antarctica’ was first use formally during the 1890s with credits for John George Bartholomew, a Scottish cartographer. The word ‘Antarctica’ is a Greek compound word of ‘feminine of’ that has the meaning of ‘opposite to the north’.

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