Researchers drilling nearly a kilometre into the Antarctic Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf shelf have unexpectedly found evidence of life.
Scientists dropped a camera down the 900m borehole to reveal a number of animals, including sponges and barnacles.
Huw Griffiths of the British Antarctic Survey said: “There’s all sorts of reasons they shouldn’t be there.”
According to the expert, this is the farthest down under ice that researchers have found these filter-feeding animals.
Discovered in complete darkness, the animals were found stuck to a rock.
He said: “These things are stuck on a rock and only get fed if something comes floating along.
“It was a real shock to find them there, a really good shock, but we can’t do DNA tests, we can’t work out what they’ve been eating, or how old they are.
“We don’t even know if they are new species, but they’re definitely living in a place where we wouldn’t expect them to be living
The discovery was published in a paper in Frontiers in Marine Science.
The paper reads: “The discovery of an established community consisting of only sessile, probably filter feeding, organisms (sponges and other taxa) on a boulder 260 km from the ice front raises significant questions, especially when the local currents suggest that this community is somewhere between 625 km and 1500 km in the direction of water flow from the nearest region of photosynthesis.
“This new evidence requires us to rethink our ideas with regard to the diversity of community types found under ice shelves, the key factors which control their distribution and their vulnerability to environmental change and ice shelf collapse.”
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