Dry Valleys LTER:
About the McMurdo Dry Valleys:
Historical impression of Dry Valleys:
When the explorer Robert Falcon Scott discovered the Taylor Valley in 1903, he called it “a valley of the dead.” As he wrote later in “The Voyage of the Discovery,” the valley’s brown hills are covered with coarse sand strewn with numerous boulders. There are no plants on its hillsides and no fish in its lakes.
“We have seen no sign of life,” Scott reported, “not even a moss or lichen.”
But while Taylor Valley hardly teems with life, Scott was wrong to call it dead. Millions of microscopic plants and animals live here, hidden in the soil, under the perenially frozen surfaces of the lakes and even inside rocks. Researchers who have traveled to this wilderness think they offer important clues to life in more conventional earthly ecosystems, and even to how life might be lived elsewhere in the solar system.