77 ancient organisms found under the ice shelf in Antarctica

(ORDO NEWS) — Much more marine life is found beneath Antarctica’s ice shelves than previously thought, according to a study published in the journal Current Biology.

Despite covering nearly 1.6 million square kilometers, ice shelves are some of the least explored places on Earth.

The fragments of life collected under the glacier were “unusual and completely unexpected,” the scientists noted. Biodiversity is harvested a few kilometers from the high seas. In fact, life under the glacier was richer than in some areas of the continental shelf, where there are sources of light and food.

Thus, 77 species of rare organisms were found, including bryozoans Melicerita obliqua and Paralaeospira sicula worms. The scientists had no idea that they lived here. Radiocarbon dating of the remains of deceased organisms helped determine the age of the colony. It became known that life under the ice already existed 5800 years ago.

Most species feed on microalgae (phytoplankton), however no plants or algae can live in this environment. “The big question is how these animals survive and thrive here.” They concluded that there must be enough algae under the ice shelf, which is transported here from open water to feed the local food web.

An oasis of ancient life met in the glaciers of Antarctica.
There are countless living microorganisms hidden under the ice. A team of scientists managed to find an oasis of life in the ice of Antarctica.

Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research conducted a number of studies in the area of ‚Äč‚ÄčNeumeier 3 station, which is located in the southeastern part of the Weddell Sea. They drilled holes in the glacier.

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