Researchers accidentally discovered Strange Creatures beneath Antarctica's Ice Shelves

Image Credit : Dr. Huw Griffiths/British Antarctic Survey via: eurekalert

In a recent study published in the Journal Frontiers, it has been found that there is more life underneath the ice shelves of the Antarctic than expected.

Researchers of an exploratory survey found the animal life when they drilled through 900 meters of ice in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, situated on the south-eastern Weddell sea.

However, the research was done to discover the existence of stationary animals, similar to songs, attached to a boulder on the seafloor.

The animals were found at a distance of 260 kilometers away from the sea level, under complete darkness and with temperatures below -2.2°C. It is very rare to find animals under these conditions.

Researchers say that these findings have asked more questions than answers. "These fortunate accidents push ideas in a different section and show us that the Antarctic marine life is incredibly special and amazingly adapted to a frozen world," the lead author and a biogeographer of the British Antarctic Society, Dr. Huw Griffiths said.

"Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there? What are they eating? How long have they been there? How common are these boulders covered in life? Are these the same species as we see outside the ice shelf or are they new species? And what would happen to these communities if the ice shelf collapsed?" He added.

The discovery is striking as the current theory of survival for life suggests that life forms become less abundant as we move further from the open water and survive. 

The research teams of geologists were surprised by the findings and even more by the video footage which showed a large boulder covered in strange creatures.

Researchers say more expedition in the Antarctic region is needed to find out the habitats in the region or what make such animals survive in the region.

Floating ice shelves represent the greatest unexplored habitat in the Southern Ocean. They cover more than 1.5m sq km of the Antarctic continental shelf, but only a total area similar in size to a tennis court has been studied through eight prior boreholes.



The research article to this story can be accessed here.

Publish : 2021-02-16 00:13:00

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