January 16, 2022

Beyond Going Long

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The harshest environment on Earth hides a lost world. Life in the oasis 6000 years ago was in darkness and freezing cold

Antarctica is undoubtedly one of the most deprived places on Earth. It is not for nothing that it is called the coldest continent with the lowest average humidity. The landscape and climate in this region is so harsh and harsh that no one has ever settled here permanently.

oasis of life

However, this does not mean that this region of the world is completely lifeless. German and American scientists were also convinced of this, in 2018 they dug 200 meters under the Ekström ice shelf using a special drill and hot water. What they saw took their breath away. For example, the portal drew attention to the topic Gizmodo.

David Barnes

At the bottom of the sea, hundreds of meters below the ice shelf in Antarctica, hidden an oasis of life filled with diverse living creatures. This harsh environment is home to 77 species (more than all previous studies of Antarctic life that have shown together), including various corals, mussels, algae, snails, and worms. new world.

All these animals live in complete darkness in water with a temperature of up to -2 ° C. Life in this place not only flourishes, but also flourishes, as evidenced by the resilience of extreme people. Researchers shared their discovery with the public through a study published in the journal current biology.

Thousands of years under the ice

More precise researchers in the field have drilled up to two holes in the Ekström ice shelf in East Antarctica. In the first case, they had to overturn up to 192 meters of ice until they reached a depth of 58 meters of water, and in the second case they broke through 190 meters of ice and collided with a depth of 110 meters, warns the gate. ScienceAlert.

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As mentioned, in these cold and dark places under the ice, a team of researchers found 77 species of animals, 49 of which are from the tribe Brizoa (moss). However, all discovered creatures have one thing in common. These are filters, that is, organisms that sit in one place and feed on algae and small animals, which they obtain by filtering water.

Given that the open sea is located 9 kilometers from this oasis of life, it is an unexpected finding that suggests that the animals must somehow subsist on phytoplankton, seemingly transporting water currents not fully understood.

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But what is most interesting is that life proceeds as well in this harsh environment as life on the open continental shelves. Scientists explained that the method of carbon or radiocarbon dating of samples of dead parts of the discovered animals showed that life in this oasis had existed continuously for at least 6000 years.

Another question arises here – how did these animals survive in this region for so long that most of the Antarctic shelf in the past was covered with ice that reached the bottom of the sea itself?

The discovery of life in an inhospitable and harsh place indicates that life can go on for a long time even in the most extreme conditions. Evidence for this also appears in ancient studies, where sponges (a multicellular lineage) were discovered up to a kilometer deep under the ice, which the researchers then compared to “Discovering a rainforest in the middle of the desert”.

Although the habitat in this region is isolated and not easily accessible, it changes with the rest of the planet. Climate change threatens the entire planet, causing a rise in temperature, which accelerates the collapse of the Antarctic ice shelves, which in turn threatens life that has persisted in these extreme conditions for thousands of years.

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In fact, we have so far only discovered a fraction of this environment, leading scientists to fear that climate change will lead to the extinction of much of our biodiversity even before we know it.