The saying goes that life makes its way, and a group of German scientists validated the saying in what is perhaps the most inhospitable place for life on Earth: Antarctica.
The finding was detailed in an article published in the journal Current Biology, where a group of experts from Germany has which found 77 animal species hundreds of meters below the ice that covers the Ekström shelf, southeast of the Weddell Sea.
In 2018, experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Center for Polar and Marine Life Research drilled blocks of ice 200 meters deep. There, in an area with practically no light and where the temperature marks minus 2.2 degrees Celsius (about 28.04 degrees Fahrenheit), they found about 80 different species among worms of the Serpulidae family and bryozoans, tiny animals that filter the water to feed themselves. .
There are several aspects that make this finding fascinating, explains David Barnes, Ph.D. in marine biology. For example, how do these animals feed if no plants or algae, such as phytoplankton, can survive in such an inhospitable environment?
Experts do not have a concrete answer, but they think that ocean currents may be the vehicle that transports some algae, forming a food web vast enough to feed the organisms found.
The surprise did not end there. The scientists conducted carbon tests to determine the age of the animals. The youngest were a few years old, but the oldest date to about 5,800 years ago.
“Despite living three to nine kilometers from the nearest open sea, an oasis of life may have existed for almost 6,000 years under the ice shelf,” Dr. Barnes noted.