A 118-year-old painting by a famous explorer was discovered in the Antarctic

Scientists accidentally discovered a 118-year-old painting in Antarctica. They stumbled upon the artifact while journeying the continent's far east side.

The watercolor painting of a tiny bird, labeled "1899 Tree Creeper," is believed to have been painted by famed British explorer Dr. Edward Wilson, who died in Antarctica on the ill-fated Scott expedition to the South Pole around 1912.

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Watercolor paintings of WWI
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Watercolor paintings of WWI

"Runner Through the Barrage, Bois de Belleau, Château-Thierry Sector; His Arm Shot Away, His Mind Gone" (1919) by Claggett Wilson

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

"First Attack on the Bois de Belleau, June 6, 1918, at Five O’Clock—3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment of Marines Advancing" (1919) by Claggett Wilson

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

"Stragglers—French Wounded in the Retreat of Château-Thierry" (1919) by Claggett Wilson 

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

"Flower of Death—The Bursting of a Heavy Shell— Not as It Looks, but as It Feels and Sounds and Smells" (1919) by Claggett Wilson

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

"Grenadier Cut Off in the Flaming Woods" (1919) by Claggett Wilson

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

"Front Line Stuff" (1919) by Claggett Wilson

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

"Encounter in the Darkness" (1919) by Claggett Wilson

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

"Dance of Death" (1919) by Claggett Wilson

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

"Rosalie, Rosalie! Rosalie is the Nickname for the French Bayonet" (1919) by Claggett Wilson

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

"Symphony of Terror" (1919) by Claggett Wilson

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum

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The painting, found in a hut built by Norwegian explorers and later used by the Scott expedition, was reportedly among moldy papers and surrounded by penguin excrement.

One of the researchers on the project was extremely surprised to see such a well preserved painting.

Antarctic Heritage Trust paper conservator Josefin Bergmark-Jimenez came across the old artwork while clearing out the hut to prepare it for restoration.

She said it was sitting on a bed in a portfolio, but she was so shocked upon opening it that she jumped back with surprise.

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"I opened it and there was this gorgeous painting," she said. "I got such a fright that I jumped and shut the portfolio again.

"I couldn't believe it was there," she told BBC.

The discovery was reportedly made last year but was kept a secret so conservators could restore artifacts from two other huts built by Norwegian explorers in Cape Adare in 1899.

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