The first reports of fossils on the Antarctic Peninsula came from James Eights in 1833, during the First American Expedition to Antarctica. Eights wrote that he discovered a section of fossilized wood, likely on King George Island, but he did not collect his find.

The search for new whaling grounds led to the next chapter in the history of Antarctica's fossils. Captain C. A. Larsen led a Norwegian whaling expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula in 1892, and collected the first fossils from the continent. Some of his crew members even traded these fossils amongst each other in exchange for tobacco! His discovery prompted the formation of the Swedish South Polar Expedition in 1901, led by Otto Nordenskjöld, a Swedish explorer.

Nordenskjöld and his team ended up spending two and a half years in the Antarctic after the ship that carried them was crushed by ice before it could begin the trip back to Europe. They spent this time exploring the region, but the conditions limited them to making short trips to Seymour Island, and collecting fossils took a backseat to finding food. Even though Nordenskjöld returned with many extraordinary Antarctic fossils, his collection only hinted at the diverse range of ancient creatures preserved in the sediments on Seymour Island, and it took several decades before the importance of this discovery was realized. Since that time, a number of expeditions have been launched to collect fossils from the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Argentine base Marambio was established on Seymour Island in 1969 and the first complete studies of the stratigraphy, sediments, and paleontology of the deposits from the Paleogene period were accomplished in the 1974-1975 field season. The research was done by a team composed of American and Argentinian geologists, and the discoveries they made prompted the US National Science Foundation to fund several more expeditions, which were led by William Zinsmeister.

Otto Nordenskjold and his crew during the Swedish South Polar Expedition of 1901

Specimens from the Zinsmeister Collection at the PRI