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Complex Life Found Under 600 Feet of Antarctic Ice

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the planted-by-von-braun-in-1967 dept.

Earth 237

Chroniton writes "NASA ice scientists have found a shrimp-like creature and a possible jellyfish 'frolicking' beneath 600 feet of solid Antarctic ice, where only microbes were expected to live. The odds of finding two complex lifeforms after drilling only an 8-inch-wide hole suggests there may be much more. And if such life is possible beneath Earth's oceans, why not elsewhere, like Europa?"

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Oceans too (3, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515668)

60% of the Earth is filled with oceans. In some parts they go down as much as Mount Everest goes up. That means over half of our planet is still not searched. Some of the found fishes in there are really weird as well and look like aliens.

Imagine the land amount all those oceans would free if tried up.

Re:Oceans too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515780)

Sounds like an ideal place to build a secret base or lab.

Re:Oceans too (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515898)

Sounds like an ideal place to build a secret base or lab.

Then hold the world ransom for ONE... MILLION... DOLLARS!!!!!

Re:Oceans too (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516296)

To little? OK ONE... HUNDRED... BILLION... DOLLARS!!!! caps text capts text geez. Don't you hate it when you have to keep writing rubbish just to get around a stupid filter. Where's the Dr. eeevil exception?!?

Re:Oceans too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516268)

Already is. The Commonwealth nations and USA have a number of them - Russians too.

Re:Oceans too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516610)

reference?

Re:Oceans too (1)

hackerman (1649305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516864)

[citation needed]

Re:Oceans too (1)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515840)

Are you feeling OK?

Re:Oceans too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516106)

4:20

Re:Oceans too (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515926)

> Imagine the land amount all those oceans would free if dried up.

Imagine all the land that would become uninhabitable if the oceans dried up.

Re:Oceans too (4, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515930)

Do the fish look like aliens, or do aliens look like fish?

Re:Oceans too (3, Insightful)

Arimus (198136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516132)

"Some of the found fishes in there are really weird as well and look like aliens."

How many aliens have you seen to confirm that the fish look like them?

Re:Oceans too (2, Funny)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516886)

One. I can verify that he looked like a fish. But he warned me of traps, so I turned back and never saw any ever again.

Re:Oceans too (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516218)

In some parts they go down as much as Mount Everest goes up.

yeah, like your girlfriend!

Re:Oceans too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516722)

Fail. He's a slashdot poster, therefore it's implied he has no girlfriend, and if he did, she definitely wouldn't go down unless she charged by the hour.

Re:Oceans too (-1, Offtopic)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516788)

Just tell her to stop watching all those recent vampire love-drama shows like True Blood and I'm happy :(

Surely nuclear subs have been there? (2, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516316)

I understand that Nuclear submarines have been under the North polar ice cap many times, surely someone's sent one under the Southern ice sheets by now? Obviously the continent would get in the way of going too far under but even so.....

I wonder if the relevant governments would be willing to release confirmatory data.

Re:Surely nuclear subs have been there? (1, Redundant)

hrimhari (1241292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516500)

surely someone's sent one under the Southern ice sheets by now?

I doubt it, since it's a continent. [wikipedia.org] The other is an ocean. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Oceans too (1)

trouser (149900) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516538)

So how do you know what aliens look like anyway?

Re:Oceans too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516630)

I wonder how that jellyfish crawled out of the primortial soup and evolved under the arctic ice.

i also wonder how it . . . came from a rock

Because Earth already has a proven Ecosystem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515702)

...and Europa doesn't.

Duh.

Re:Because Earth already has a proven Ecosystem (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515802)

Just like Europe!

Re:Because Earth already has a proven Ecosystem (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516310)

Well, in those days, Mars was just a dreary uninhabitable wasteland. Much like Utah. But unlike Utah, it was eventually made livable.

I doubt this (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515720)

A more likely explanation is that the samples were contaminated by the instruments. If we look in the Bible there is no mention that God made this lifeform, therefore the most logical explanation is contamination.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

Europa? (4, Funny)

madpanic (176238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515742)

I thought we were not allowed to explore Europa?

Re:Europa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515786)

A lot of complex life forms in Uranus, I'm sure!

Re:Europa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516394)

A lot of complex life forms in Uranus, I'm sure!

They found 2 large specimens drilling the single hole with 8-inch... uh...

dammit, too many words to make fun of that I can't keep them straight.

Re:Europa? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515790)

I thought we were not allowed to explore Europa?

You are aware that those Yuropeeins discovered America, right?

Re:Europa? (3, Informative)

nebaz (453974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515968)

All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landings there.

This year, even.

Re:Europa? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516364)

Thought the first American continent colonizers came from the West, not the East.

Re:Europa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516432)

It's funny when Eurotrash tries to make an American look uneducated and only succeeds in revealing their own lack of culture.

Here's a hint: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010:_Odyssey_Two [wikipedia.org]

Re:Europa? (1)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516936)

This is so sad it doesn't even deserve a "whoosh". Just go out and rent 2010. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086837/ [imdb.com]

Re:Europa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516304)

I see what you did there. :)

Re:Europa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516478)

The real question should be if the Shrimp and the Jelly Fish were "frolicking" together or separately.

Ice scientists?!?! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515760)

Ice scientists? Wow! I thought the only one was Jan of the Wonder Twins. ("Form of, an Ice Scientist!")

The real question. (4, Funny)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515778)

How does it taste?

Re:The real question. (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515804)

It tastes a lot like frozen chicken.

Re:The real question. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516028)

Antarctic Frozen Chicken... At least the shelf life will be more favorable, so you don't have to worry whether it will be fresh when you pay them your next visit.

Re:The real question. (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516034)

Well, if you're really interested . . . here's a place that will serve it up for you:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/03/15/california.whale.meat.apology/?hpt=T2

Straight up, or on the rocks.

Mmmmmm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516302)

How does it taste?

Jellyfish and shrimp sandwich!

only problem (3, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515806)

And if such life is possible beneath Earth's oceans, why not elsewhere, like Europa?

Because Europa is not Antarctica. We get it. Life can live in ice-covered oceans and it can even be complex. This is all idle speculation until someone actually probes Europa to see what's under there.

Re:only problem (2, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515902)

Of course this is just speculation. However, this broadens the range of environments where we know that complex life, and even self sustaining ecosystems can exist. And that is the true purpose of the Drake equation. Not giving us a probability for life elsewhere, but rather defining the parameter envelope we think is able to sustain life. Every discovery of more extreme ecosystems broadens that envelope - and that is interesting in itself. Now let's get our arse to Europa and Drill, Baby, Drill!

Re:only problem (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515978)

If you're going to point out that Europa is different from Antartica at least take the time to point out how it's different. Namely, the complex life in Antarctica evolved in different, more comfortable conditions. Complex life under hundreds of feet of ice on Earth says nothing about whether or not it's possible for life to begin or become complex in those conditions. It just says that once started, life is very adaptable.

Re:only problem (4, Informative)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516312)

If you're going to point out that Europa is different from Antartica at least take the time to point out how it's different. Namely, the complex life in Antarctica evolved in different, more comfortable conditions. Complex life under hundreds of feet of ice on Earth says nothing about whether or not it's possible for life to begin or become complex in those conditions. It just says that once started, life is very adaptable.

But did life really begin in such "comfortable" conditions? I don't think its too far-fetched to imagine most life beginning in even less habitable conditions than it currently thrives in.

Natural selection seems to suggest that life must be more robust than the pressures of its environment, and that life only becomes less robust if it can afford to do so. Not the other way around.

Re:only problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516732)

Life didn't develop by natural selection. Life adapted because of natural selection.

Life developed supposedly from the right mix of temperature, chemicals, and magic.

Re:only problem (1)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516860)

And time. Don't forget the time. Without time, magic is impossible.

Re:only problem (1)

isama (1537121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516344)

So maybe a tiny rock flew past the earth and picked up a couple of bacteria and crashed into europa. (i'm not sure that's possible, but it could be..)

Re:only problem (3, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516646)

Some say that life on Earth started (and evolved) around hydrothermal vents where there is no sunlight. The get their energy through a process known as chemosynthesis. If true, life on any ocean bearing planet could become common if not expected. Going to Europa will change those odds one way or another.

"All these worlds are yours, (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516036)

except Europa. Attempt no landings there." ... and as far as I can tell from wikipedia, it seems 'we' haven't yet? No landers, no hurling things into the surface to see what gets thrown up, no nothing... just flyby missions. hmm..

Re:only problem (2, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516094)

The question is where did life evolve first in the solar system or did it evolve somewhere else first and was transported here. If panspermia is correct and life can be transported over past the ISM between star systems it is likely any place in the galaxy that is hit by this ' stuff ' will have life.

Re:only problem (3, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516258)

Life can live in ice-covered oceans and it can even be complex. This is all idle speculation until someone actually probes Europa to see what's under there.

I just had this image in my head of humans building a colony on Mars, then ET's come by and say "Whoah! This means sentient life could have evolved on barren worlds like Mars!"

Re:only problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516332)

Not if they saw any of our sitcoms they wouldn't...

Re:only problem (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516436)

Yes... yes... That 20 year old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon was pretty funny.

it's much simpler than that (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516322)

And if such life is possible beneath Earth's oceans, why not elsewhere, like Europa?

There's just too many Europeans there for it to possibly sustain life.

Re:it's much simpler than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516676)

And if such life is possible beneath Earth's oceans, why not elsewhere, like Europa?

There's just too many Europeans there for it to possibly sustain life.

Europa actually is the German term for Europe, so I kinda actually supposed it was mean as a joke/insult when I first read it ..

Re:only problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516844)

It's speculation because the complex life forms survived there and adapted, TFA doesn't say that they evolved there into jelly and fish, so even if we find life on Europa or any other candidates this doesn't mean it will be a life form more complex than a microbe.

More scientific arrogance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515864)

FTA:

"It's pretty amazing when you find a huge puzzle like that on a planet where we thought we know everything," Kim said.

Sheesh!

Re:More scientific arrogance... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516978)

Yea. We didn't think we know everything. Maybe he/she did, but the rest of us know we don't know.

There is a misspelling... (5, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515870)

The amphipod is actually a Lysianassid, not a Lyssianasid, if someone tries to google it :)

Re:There is a misspelling... (5, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516282)

The amphipod is actually a Lysianassid, not a Lyssianasid, if someone tries to google it :)

You know, you'd get a lot more points in Scrabble if you'd just learn to shut your yap!

Did you mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516336)

The amphipod is actually a Lysianassid, not a Lyssianasid, if someone tries to google it :)

Now you lysian, here you ass id. People don't like pedantics, especially when they're wrong.

The correct word is Lysianassidae. The Mighty Oracle of Mountain View [google.com] told me so. And do not demur, lest you anger it and incur its wrath.

Re:There is a misspelling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516656)

You're acting as if anyone actually cared!

Europa is not the same (2, Interesting)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515876)

These creatures probably depend on free oxygen to live, which comes from plant life on the unglaciated parts of the Earth's surface. This is not an argument against the possibility of life on Europa, it is an argument against assuming that the environment under Europa's ice is as life-friendly that under Antarctica's.

Re:Europa is not the same (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515914)

> These creatures probably depend on free oxygen to live, which comes from
> plant life on the unglaciated parts of the Earth's surface.

How did the oxygen get down there?

Re:Europa is not the same (1)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516324)

> How did the oxygen get down there?

By ocean circulation. The article mentions that the location is 'at least 12 miles from open water', and considers whether the creatures came from there (which is thought possible but unlikely). This, then, is not an isolated water pocket, which would be much more interesting.

Re:Europa is not the same (1)

takowl (905807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516542)

How did the oxygen get down there?

Most of the oceans are well oxygenated. Oxygen dissolves from the air and is mixed through the water by large scale currents. The exceptions are some river outlets, where nutrient inputs allow life to grow quickly and use up the available oxygen.

The question with these creatures is what they eat. Oxygen wouldn't be lacking.

Life under Antarctic ice? This sounds familiar... (3, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515886)

Get out your torches, and somebody call Kurt Russell, quick!

Shoggoths (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515906)

Didn't we learn from Lovecraft? /waiting for the Del Toro movie...

Re:Shoggoths (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516628)

Phew. I was beginning to worry, because I had read most of the comments and seen not a single "At the Mountains of Madness' reference. Surprising to see so many Clark references when HPL is so much more appropriate in this case...

Re:Shoggoths (1)

skroz (7870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516776)

Are you surprised? Most people think Arkham is a mental institution in a movie about a comic book.

Beneath the oceans? (1)

psYchotic87 (1455927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515916)

And if such life is possible beneath Earth's oceans, why not elsewhere, like Europa?

I don't get it, how exactly do you get from "600 feet under solid Antarctic ice" to "beneath Earth's oceans"?

Frolicking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515936)

I went to TFA and found no evidence of "Frolicking" unless a shrimp humping a video cable is now considered sex.

Re:Frolicking? (1)

RMingin (985478) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516246)

I went to TFA and found no evidence of "Frolicking" unless a shrimp humping a video cable is now considered sex.

I'm pretty sure that it means EXACTLY that, for the shrimp at least.

Why NASA? (-1, Troll)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515942)

Why is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration looking underneath Antartican Ice?

Re:Why NASA? (2, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515996)

I guess they want to refine their extreme environment exploration techniques locally before they try it out somewhere out there. Weren't techniques for the moon landings rehearsed in the highland deserts of Iceland? Perfectly reasonable in my opinion.

Re:Why NASA? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516164)

An eight inch hole?

Re:Why NASA? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516204)

But you can find those all over the planet.

Sure lots are smaller... but some even fit ten inches.

Re:Why NASA? (2, Informative)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516234)

Did you read the summary? Potentially a very similar environment as Europa. You don't just fly a probe to Europa and learn how to drill a hole on the fly, you practice and rehearse beforehand. Not really a difficult to understand concept...

Re:Why NASA? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516372)

We can't exactly reach Europa with a probe yet, can we?

Was that in the President's limited budget and I missed it?

Re:Why NASA? (2, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516252)

An eight inch hole?

If we fly to other planets, our probes may need to be able to accommodate any size orifice.

Re:Why NASA? (2, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516308)

Why is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration looking underneath Antartican Ice?

Are you seriously asking why NASA would be studying life in extreme hostile environments?

Re:Why NASA? (2, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516846)

Why is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration looking underneath Antartican Ice?

They're looking for the second stargate. Duh.

Heed HAL's warning (0)

uvsc_wolverine (692513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515952)

"All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there. Use them together. Use them in peace."

I mean Arthur C. Clarke must've known something. Another science fiction author unraveled the meaning of existence and we all know that L. Ron Hubbard is 100% right (for those of you with broken sarcasm detectors, I'm kidding), so Clarke must be at least as brilliant since he was a better writer!

Re:Heed HAL's warning (2, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516384)

Clarke, like Asimov, was a scientist before he was a science fiction author. Hubbard was fraudulent huckster before he was a science fiction author/religious leader.

More Than Microbes In Antarctica (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515974)

Nazis established a base [youtube.com] in Antarctica.

Yours In Ufa,
Kilgore Trout

Note to Explorers! (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515976)

There's apparently more Earth left to see! Before we venture to Mars, lets go look under this ice. The environment is a lot friendlier, comparatively speaking, and there's less distance to cross before we arrive!

Re:Note to Explorers! (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516088)

Why should we (+6,000 million people) do one and leave the other?

Re:Note to Explorers! (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516182)

Limited resources, namely funding.

extreme depth (1)

Mantis8 (876944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515984)

This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "6' under".

I'm just sayin... (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515994)

"...And if such life is possible beneath Earth's oceans, why not elsewhere, like Europa?"

Well, because the original prototypes developed in warmer climes and adapted to colder environments later on.

I wouldn't get my hopes up too high about complex life on Europa.

Re:I'm just sayin... (1)

hrimhari (1241292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516564)

Because you know for a fact that Europa has never been hotter than it is today?

Plato on the moon? (2, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516086)

We know that humans have traveled to the moon. Humans similar in biological content to the famous greek philosopher Plato. So, is it possible that Plato traveled to the Moon?

Plato was a smart guy, but he couldn't have landed on the moon. Landing on the moon required us to adapt well enough to a very hospitable environment before we could even reach the moon's harsh landscape. I think We might discover the same is true of life. Its more likely to develop in a very hospitable environment and then over time develop the skills necissiary to thrive in harsher climates. I do think we might be able to transplant our extreme lifeforms to other planets. In the same way a lunar rover would probably do okay on the surface of mars as well.

Teekkürler Janlarm (-1, Offtopic)

mursel (1769672) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516098)

sohbet [trsohbetlive.com]

ee abi sonra ne ie yararki bu buzlar felan ne yapolar oralarda bu adamlar amck amck i yapmasnlar söleyin.

Re:Teekkürler Janlarm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516390)

Ben Türkçe bilmiyorum.

Europa (4, Insightful)

schnitzi (243781) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516114)

>And if such life is possible beneath Earth's oceans, why not elsewhere, like Europa?

Because saying life can survive somewhere is different than saying it can evolve somewhere.

Re:Europa (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516996)

Because saying life can survive somewhere is different than saying it can evolve somewhere.

And even if they said life can evolve somewhere doesn't mean is has evolved there.

Geography issues? (3, Funny)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516202)

And if such life is possible beneath Earth's oceans, why not elsewhere, like Europa?

Yeah, we Europeans are living elsewhere but Earth. We feel more attached to our universe like that...

Not likely (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31516266)

I've looked - yes it's damn cold, but I didn't find any signs of complex life.

(Ps: You misspelt Europe)

maybe (1)

Spaham (634471) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516930)

because it migrated there and didn't evolve there in parallel ?

Lots of life in the Antarctic - if you look for it (3, Informative)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31516952)

This doesn't surprise me too much. The SCINI Project [calstate.edu] has been finding neat stuff for some time now, even while they were just testing their equipment.

Microbes have even been found living in the ice of the polar plateau (at constant temperatures around -50C).

And check out Anoxycalyx Joubini [escholarship.org] (Volcano Sponge), some specimens of which are thought to be 15,000 years old and still living. These are animals that make those Sequoia look like juveniles.

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