The Associated Press has reported that a team from NASA has made a surprising discovery about the ultra-harsh conditions where higher forms of life can thrive.
This revelation comes in the shape of a never before seen shrimp-like creature and jellyfish that were seen frolicking six hundred-feet below beneath a massive Antarctic ice sheet, where no light shines. Previously scientists had assumed that nothing more than a few microbes could exist in such an environment.
It was for this reason the NASA team was surprised when — after lowering a video camera to get shots of the underbelly of an ice sheet in Antarctica — a curious, orange, 3-inch long, shrimp-like creature came swimming by and then parked itself on the camera’s cable. Scientists also pulled up a tentacle they believe came from a foot-long jellyfish.
NASA ice scientist, Robert Bindschadler, who will be presenting the initial findings and a video at an American Geophysical Union meeting Wednesday, had this to say about the discovery:
“We were operating on the presumption that nothing’s there… we were just gaga over it. Technically, it’s not a shrimp. It’s a Lyssianasid amphipod, which is distantly related to shrimp.”
The video is likely to inspire experts to rethink what they believe they know about life in harsh environments — in much the same way the discovery of hydrothermal vent communities did in 1979. The video also has scientists musing that if shrimp-like creatures can frolic in subfreezing dark water below 600-feet of Antarctic ice, what about other hostile places that are literally OUT OF THIS WORLD, such as Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa?
Biologist Stacy Kim of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California and member of the NASA team expressed the significance of their frozen find:
“They are looking at the equivalent of a drop of water in a swimming pool that you would expect nothing to be living in and they found not one animal but two… it’s pretty amazing when you find a huge puzzle like that on a planet where we thought we know everything… we have no idea what’s going on down there.”