Scientists have made another amazing discovery, giving further proof of ancient life in a lake which is located beneath the West part of Antarctica and just a few hundred kilometres from the South Pole.
Despite being the coldest and the most extreme environment on Earth, the lake apparently is teeming with life. The reason why this discovery is very important is that it could provide the necessary proof and answers; which is that there could be life on other planets that have similar environments, Mars in particular. Recently, ESA (European Space Agency’s) Orbitter discovered a massive lake of liquid saltwater, leaving scientists excited that there is now a higher chance that there might be life on Mars.
Many people are probably thinking Antarctica is just a massive block of ice, with a little wild life on it. For the better part yes, but the exciting thing about Antarctica is we have absolutely no idea what’s lurking beneath all that frozen ice. For all we could say, there could be a frozen civilization or there could even be proof of how life actually started on planet Earth,
This amazing discovery was made in the West part of Antarctica, beneath an ice sheet of over 1000 meters, which has been preserved in mint condition thanks to geothermal heating.
The lake, which has now been named Lake Mercer, was actually discovered back in 2016 and in an article which was posted on Live Science, states that the lake is apparently a shape of a ribbon, and has a length of 100 kilometres and just over 10 kilometres in width. To put that in perspective, Lake Mercer is more than one and half the size of London.
The expedition started at the end of last year with a team of 25 polar scientists curious as what might be lurking beneath the surface of the subglacial lake, in hope of finding a diversity of life, the scientists had to drill 1000 meters deep borehole down into Lake Mercer.
Team leader John Priscu explained the findings to Live Science;
“We saw lots of bacteria — and the [lake] system has enough organic matter, you would think, to support higher life-forms,” he also added:
“We are really going to get a good look for higher organisms, like animals … but that won’t be done for another couple of months.”
(Terrestrial species live in the interior dampness of moss, lichen, leaf litter and soil; other species are found in fresh or salty water. They are commonly known as water bears, a name derived from their resemblance to eight-legged pandas. Some call them moss piglets and they have also been compared to pygmy rhinoceroses and armadillos. On seeing them, most people say tardigrades are the cutest invertebrate). Source: American Scientist
The reason why the findings are extremely interesting is that creatures like this, including the tardigrade, are land dwellers so the scientists are trying to understand how they have ended up in the subglacial Lake Mercer.
According to one theory, scientists suspect that thousands of years ago during a warmer summer these creatures may have lived in small ponds and streams in the Transantarctic Mountains, but the problem with this theory is the Transantarctic Mountains are approximately 50 kilometres from Lake Mercer so it’s still unclear how they would had ended up in the lake.
David Harwood, one of the micro-palaeontologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who was on the Amtarctica Polar Team, said:
“The findings are fully unexpected and could indicate life is able to survive hostile conditions”.
If creatures are able to live and survive in such extreme environments, could this give indications that our solar system may be thriving with alien life yet to be discovered? Maybe within the next few years NASA may discover life on Mars’s liquid saltwater lake? What are your thoughts about this discovery?
Also you may also like: Antarctica: The Biggest Secret Kept From Humanity?
Check out the below video by BBC Earth which will give you a good insight of what it’s like to travel 1000m beneath the ice.
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Source: IFL Science