Strange life forms have found locked under an ice shelf about 260 kilometers (161 miles) from the open sea beneath Antarctica. The animals discovered by the British Antarctic Survey in an attempt to collect the original specimen of a poly from the bottom of the ice shelf of the Filchner-Ron ice shelf. While tunneling about 900 meters (2952 feet) into the ice shelf, their drill suddenly hit a boulder. Even more unexpectedly, a camera attached to the drill revealed that a community of animals had latched on top of the rock (pictured below).
The community of marine organisms is stable, such as sponges, but probably includes many different species. As researchers have noticed in their new study published in the Frontiers Journal of Marine Science, the discovery has broken many of the rules of what we know about life on Earth. Previous expeditions have found some small mobile scavengers and predators such as fish, worms and krill in such Antarctic habitats. However, this new discovery is particularly surprising because animals are seamless, which means they are stationary and not mobile. Such stationary animals are usually filter feeders that rely on food in the past flowing above.
Furthermore, they live under complete darkness, with temperatures of –2.2 °C, far away from open water and sunlight. This new study estimates that this community flows 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) from the nearest source of photosynthesis and raises questions about how they receive energy and nutrients.
“Our discovery raises many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there? What do they eat? How long have they been there? How common are these rocks in life? Can we see the same species on the outside Species? In addition, what will happen to this community if the ice shelf collapses? “Asked Dr Huw Griffiths, a biologist and author the British Antarctic Survey.
“This discovery is one of the lucky accidents that pushed ideas and showed us that Antarctic marine life has adapted to an incredibly special and amazingly frozen world,” adds Dr. Griffiths. It is possible that organisms gain their energy in other ways, such as by melting glaciers or by chemotrophic processes from methane sips. For this, the team has to collect samples of these creatures, which is no small feat considering their desperate remote location.
The discovery of ice shelves totally across about one-third of Antarctica’s 5 million square kilometers of continental shelf may indicate that life under ice shelves is more common than ever before, as other recent studies have indicated. In 2019, scientists discovered a colony of bacteria and more complex in life Lake Mercer, a glacier lake found under the West Antarctic ice sheet.