Summary Report on the Miskatonic University Expedition to Antarctica, 1930-31

By William Dyer, Ph.D

The report praises Lake's work again and again, but carefully turns aside from sensationalism. The "Pre-Cambrian footprints" referred to in the newspaper accounts of the day are identified as the fossilized imprints of some incredibly ancient form of sea-dwelling plant life, similar to the more recent well-preserved specimens found by Lake's party in the fossil cave. These are discussed at length, and the remaining evidence catalogued; the specimens are identified from Lake's notes and drawings as a large thick-bodied plant similar to kelp. (Lake's description of the specimens as "animals" with "internal organs" is chalked up to scientific error resulting from over-excitement. lack of rest. and possible "snow craze"; his soapstone "carvings" are likewise dismissed as unusual water-shaped soapstone fragments.) No physical specimens were brought north; the ones excavated by Lake were reportedly lost when the blizzard destroyed the camp.

The remainder of fossil finds, bones, and imprints of a wide variety of plant and animal species are well represented in the collection and the report. These paint a fascinating biological history of the Antarctic continent, confirming the notion that Antarctica was once a warm and verdant land and lending substantial support to evidence of continental drift.

Dyer is at a loss to explain the disaster at the camp, though his sorrow and regret very clear. He concludes from the state of the remains that the men of the party would almost certainly have died from the blizzard in any case, but lays the blame for the destruction of the dogs and dispersal of the evidence upon a person or persons unknown-possibly the student George Gedney, who ran amok during the hours of the storm. The terrible desolation, the cold and dismal conditions, the thin unhealthy air, and the hours of overwork are cited as contributing factors.

He discusses the anomalous mountain range in some detail, confirming Lake's broadcast opinion that the great peaks are of Archaean slate and other very primal crumpled strata unchanged for at least a hundred million years. He discusses without analysis the odd clinging cubical formations on the mountainsides, hypothesizes that the cave mouths indicate dissolved calcareous veins, and expresses his concern that a model for the preservation of such relatively soft stone in peaks of such great height has not been made.

Of the lands beyond the higher peaks he says little, describing them only as "a lofty and immense super-plateau as ancient and unchanging as the mountains themselves- twenty thousand feet in elevation, with grotesque rock formations showing through a thin glacial layer and with low gradual foothills between the general plateau surface and the sheer precipices of the highest peaks."

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