Coordinates: 45 0 S 69 0 W
Approximate area: 300,000 sq. mi. (770,000 sq. km)
Perhaps best characterized as a sparsely populated, expansive arid region situated almost literally at the ends of the Earth, Patagonia once teemed with an impressive range of flora and fauna. Of course to fully appreciate the abundance of life that once called this piece of South America home, it helps to have a degree in paleontology. For the past seven years, scientists have been working in the higher elevations of Argentina’s Neuquen province and just recently announced an important new find: the fossilized remains of one of the largest dinosaurs known to have existed. When this massive animal (estimated to be four stories tall) could still be found lumbering across the Patagonian landscape, none of the riverbeds that now run intermittently dry would have suffered from a lack of water. On the contrary, the Cretaceous environment was tropical and comparatively lush.
Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.