Antarctica has more species than the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador are known to be teeming with biodiversity and an incredible number of species. A recent report from the Journal of Biogeography shows that the Antarctic—a region few imagine as bursting with life—has the Galapagos beat.

A team from British Antarctic Survey and University of Hamburg conducted what’s considered the first comprehensive inventory of sea and land animals around a group of Antarctic islands, according to a press release from the group. The report found more than 1,200 known marine and land species, including the black browed albatross (pictured, courtesy British Antarctic Survey) sea urchins, mollusks and mites. Five were previously unknown to science.

“This abundance of life was completely unexpected for a location in the polar regions, previously perceived to be poor in biodiversity,” author Stefanie Kaiser from University of Hamburg said in a statement.