A lost 118-year-old painting by one of Britain’s most famous explorers has been discovered in Antarctica.

Scientists stumbled on the delicate watercolour of a bird in a hut on Cape Adare, a peninsula on the continent’s far east side.

The almost perfectly-preserved artwork was painted by Dr Edward Wilson, a British polar explorer who died in Antarctica with his expedition leader Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

It was hidden among penguin excrement, dust and mouldy papers in the hut he sheltered in on a 1911 expedition from which he never returned.

The delicate painting is labelled ‘1899 Tree Creeper’, and depicts a white-breasted tree creeper bird.

But how it ended up in the Cape Adare hut 12 years after Dr Wilson painted it is a mystery.

Paper conservator Josefin Bergmark-Jimenez found the old artwork while clearing out the hut to ready it for restoration.

It was left in a portfolio sitting on the bed, but she was so surprised to find it that she jumped back in shock.

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

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