Discover mysterious new life forms buried under the ice

Written by Matilde Rajot

The discovery is accidental, but exceptional. Deep in the Antarctic sea floor, scientists have tracked down an entire world of strange creatures that they did not suspect lived in such an inhospitable place.

After spending hours shoveling the snow on Filchner-Ronne barrier (A platform in the Weddell Sea), geologists have successfully drilled A. A 900-meter hole in the Antarctic ice. Target? Collect sediment samples from the ocean floor on behalf of British Antarctic Survey. But what the scientists discovered was even more surprising in the end: instead of hitting mud, they ran into A rock covered with many hitherto unknown life forms.

A ‘resilient and powerful’ life

Indeed, as they made their way into the sediments, their camera took a picture Sponge Community and Creature Filter Never seen before hanging on a stone. Some were full, round bodies, and others were thin rods that extended into the surrounding waters. Description of living things In the review Frontiers in Marine Sciences On February 15, 2021. Evolve in prof Particularly hostile environment, At extremely low temperatures and in complete darkness.

Huo Griffiths, marine geographer from British Antarctic Survey (UK) who was able to study the images and participate in the research, he explains to me Live Science :

It’s a place where we basically didn’t expect this kind of society to live at all.. It shows us that life is much more resilient and strong than we had hoped, if it could withstand these conditions.

The mystery remains unsolved … for now

If other moving animals (fish, arthropods) have already been detected Under the Antarctic iceThis is the first time Steady and sessile animals (Attached to a pillar, such as a sponge and a coral reef) is observed in these frozen black waters. And with good reason, those It feeds on phytoplankton, Microscopic marine algae … which depend on the sun for photosynthesis. It’s hard, then, to imagine these creatures growing where little food would likely reach them.

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But now, though Unfavorable conditions – and ocean currents that do not seem ideal for supplying them with phytoplankton, too – many fixed percolate species have already appeared on this rock. This raises many questions. Unfortunately, everything scientists know about these Mysterious beings Comes from less than a minute of video footage. Its further study, 260 km from the ships where the laboratories are located, is A. Big challenge.

How many other rocks can host life as well Under 1.5 million square kilometers of ice shelves ? So far, when it comes to the sea floor, the equivalent of only a tennis court has been photographed, according to Huw Griffiths

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