Researchers drilling nearly a kilometre into the Antarctic Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf shelf have unexpectedly found evidence of life. Scientists dropped a camera down the 900m borehole to reveal a number of animals, including sponges and barnacles. Huw Griffiths of the British Antarctic Survey said: “There’s all sorts of reasons they shouldn’t be there.”
According to the expert, this is the farthest down under ice that researchers have found these filter-feeding animals.
Discovered in complete darkness, the animals were found stuck to a rock.
He said: “These things are stuck on a rock and only get fed if something comes floating along.
“It was a real shock to find them there, a really good shock, but we can’t do DNA tests, we can’t work out what they’ve been eating, or how old they are.
The paper reads: “This new evidence requires us to rethink our ideas with regard to the diversity of community types found under ice shelves, the key factors which control their distribution and their vulnerability to environmental change and ice shelf collapse.”
The researchers will now want to learn as much about these creatures as possible.
How did they get there and how long have they been under the ice shelf?
What do the animals feed and just how common are they?
Dr Griffiths said: “This discovery is one of those fortunate accidents that pushes ideas in a different direction and shows us that Antarctic marine life is incredibly special and amazingly adapted to a frozen world.”
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