Scientists have discovered unidentified animal species living in the freezing waters underneath the ice sheets of Antarctica.
According to the reports, experts from the British Antarctic Survey came across two unidentified stationary animals, which are believed to be sea sponges or relatives of sponges, on the seafloor beneath Antarctica.
The scientists came upon signs of life after drilling eight 3,000-foot-deep holes in the icy surface and inserting cameras to inspect a small area the size of a tennis court underneath the thick ice sheet.
While it was previously believed that the subzero waters beneath the ice of Antarctica were deserted, researchers were thrilled to find not just any but an entirely new animal species living in the depths.
“This discovery is one of those fortunate accidents that pushes ideas in a different direction and shows us that Antarctic marine life is incredibly special and amazingly adapted to a frozen world,” Dr Huw Griffiths, a biogeographer and the lead of the study in the region, said.
“Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there? What are they eating? How long have they been there? How common are these boulders covered in life? Are these the same species as we see outside the ice shelf or are they new species? And what would happen to these communities if the ice shelf collapsed?”
Following the discovery, which was made far from the open sea – 160 miles to be precise, scientists have been left hungry for more, whereas Griffiths confirmed it is now time to find a way to get closer to the suspected new animal species.
“To answer our questions we will have to find a way of getting up close with these animals and their environment – and that’s under 900 m (3,000 ft) of ice, 260 km (160 miles) away from the ships where our labs are,” he added.
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