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Feb 22, 2021
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Living creatures unknown to science found under the shelf of Antarctica

Geologists from the British Antarctic Survey have made an intriguing discovery in Antarctica. They drilled a 900m deep hole in the Filchner-Ronne Glacier to collect samples, but when they lowered the video camera there, they suddenly found a new form of life there, the existence of which seems impossible. Moreover, the presence of living organisms in the subglacial world of the Antarctic shelf is a long proven fact.

There are two fundamental difficulties in recognizing and understanding new beings. Firstly, they are motionless, resembling mushrooms or sponges. The fact of kinship has not yet been proven, but it is obvious that these creatures cannot move, and therefore entirely depend on what the current will bring them, including elementary food. In contrast, all previously discovered subglacial jellyfish, worms and krill in Antarctica, on the contrary, are constantly moving in search of better conditions for life.

The process of lowering the camera into the well. The creature in the photo is not related to the find

The second problem is that scientists cannot figure out what is the basis for the survival of these creatures. They live in pitch darkness, at an ambient temperature of -2.2 ºC, at least 260 km to open ocean water, and the nearest place where photosynthesis is possible is 1500 km away. Moreover, it is located downstream of the location where the mysterious animals were found. So what do they eat?

There is a version that incomprehensible creatures can absorb chemicals released during the melting of glaciers or from methane deposits. Alas, it is not yet possible to take a sample, which raises new questions. How numerous are they? How did they even get to the bottom of the glacier? What is their life cycle? Are they endemic or a variety of life forms elsewhere? All these questions have yet to be answered.

Alexander Martynenko



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