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Lake Vostok Found Teeming With Life

samzenpus posted 1 year,21 days | from the deep-ones-not-included dept.

Earth 62

jpyeck writes "Lake Vostok, Antarctica's biggest and deepest subsurface lake, might contain thousands of different kinds of tiny organisms — and perhaps bigger fish as well, researchers report. The lake, buried under more than 2 miles (3.7 kilometers) of Antarctic ice, has been seen as an earthly analog for ice-covered seas on such worlds as Europa and Enceladus. It's thought to have been cut off from the outside world for as long as 15 million years. But the latest results, reported in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, suggest that the lake isn't as sterile or otherworldly as some scientists might have thought. More than 3,500 different DNA sequences were identified in samples extracted from layers of ice that have built up just above the surface of the lake."

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62 comments

Are any of them potentially dangerous? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44214773)

They should get one of the clipboard guys to chug a bottle and see if he mutates.

Re:Are any of them potentially dangerous? (5, Funny)

TWiTfan (2887093) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215067)

Screw dangerous, I'm wondering how those fish *taste*.

Re:Are any of them potentially dangerous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215193)

They taste like chicken.

Re:Are any of them potentially dangerous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215433)

Get them before China and Japan wipe them out

Re:Are any of them potentially dangerous? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | 1 year,21 days | (#44216895)

Screw dangerous, I'm wondering how those fish *taste*.

Old.

Re:Are any of them potentially dangerous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44216935)

The first thing I thought was "How long until we fish this to extinction?"

Re:Are any of them potentially dangerous? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215375)

well if any are intelligent that will put them higher up the tre of life than americans

Re:Are any of them potentially dangerous? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215417)

Or really, really needs some Chapstick.

Don't dig up the spaceship (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44214779)

That ends badly

Re:Don't dig up the spaceship (-1, Offtopic)

buzzfocus23 (2976439) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215099)

what Marie responded I'm amazed that a person able to earn $5903 in a few weeks on the computer. did you read this web page > ---- WEP6.COM

Re:Don't dig up the spaceship (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215419)

Only to the Norwegians

Re:Don't dig up the spaceship (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44217155)

You can't handle the tooth.

Mountains Of Madness (1)

auric_dude (610172) | 1 year,21 days | (#44214797)

H.P. Lovecraft and lots of strange DNA https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_the_Mountains_of_Madness [wikipedia.org]

Re:Mountains Of Madness (1)

laejoh (648921) | 1 year,21 days | (#44214885)

Or worse, much worse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piranha_3D [wikipedia.org]

Re:Mountains Of Madness (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215209)

This just in: Russian drill crew eaten by Sharktopus. . . . [imdb.com]

Re:Mountains Of Madness (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#44222493)

"and perhaps bigger" Much, much bigger...

Who knew ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44214811)

There had been more than 3k fucking scientists there?
"Not sterile." heh.

Re:Who knew ? (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | 1 year,21 days | (#44214851)

Bah. More bad science journalism. Everybody knows scientests hardly ever fuck.

Re:Who knew ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44217115)

But when they do, they tend to f**k all of humanity.

After all the fuss (5, Funny)

Provocateur (133110) | 1 year,21 days | (#44214819)

...it turns out to be life as we know it

Re:After all the fuss (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44214867)

...it turns out to be life as we know it

Well, we tend to classify everything else as something other than life.

Re:After all the fuss (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215263)

For instance, although Dick Cheney breathes and speaks, I don't know that the bionic man is technically life any more. He may be more machine than man.

Let's sequence the DNA first (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44214823)

Because if they correspond to already known species, then it's just contamination.

Re:Let's sequence the DNA first (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44214873)

Should've RTFA, they did exactly that.

It's not contamination (5, Informative)

dfm3 (830843) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215091)

If you read TFA, you'll see that 1) they did sequence DNA, 2) they found many, many species which are not the usual ones associated with contamination due to methodology, and 3) they found organisms that can theoretically survive in the extreme and varied environments believed to be present in the lake (thermophiles near suspected geothermal areas, halophiles in brackish/salty water, etc). As a microbiologist, I find it fascinating that the authors not only provide a list of species, but go so far as to paint a complete picture of how each could possibly exist in a completely functioning ecosystem. For example, they found organisms responsible for carbon and nitrogen fixation, and hypothesize that these same species will also be found throughout the lake water in their various niches.

Re:It's not contamination (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44216319)

I've read TFA, and thanks for adding some clarity, but I still have to wonder when they'll sequence the DNA. Shouldn't they do that first to rule out contamination? I think I'll wait til then. Because, if it's just an already known species then it's just contamination.

Re:It's not contamination (3, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | 1 year,21 days | (#44218653)

I've read TFA, and thanks for adding some clarity, but I still have to wonder when they'll sequence the DNA.

Apparently you neither read the TFA nor the reply to your original false assertion that they didn't sequence the DNA.

Nor does your claim "if it's just an already known species then it's just contamination" make any sense.

I was on a remote island recently. I picked up an odd feather on the beach. I brought it back home and used it to identify the bird it came from. It was a known species.

There is absolutely no basis in that observation to support the claim that my backpack had somehow become contaminated by feathers from that species, and DNA is no different from feathers in this regard, when subject to ordinary standards of careful handling for such samples, which were obviously applied in this case (that is: the people doing the research are not and should not be presumed to be complete idiots.)

So you're completely wrong about all that, but have a nice day anyway!

Re:It's not contamination (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44220443)

TFA's light on details, but shouldn't they sequence the DNA first? Seems like a good place to start. Could just be contamination.

If it were my pool... (2)

sycodon (149926) | 1 year,21 days | (#44214845)

...I'd shock it with a giant does of chlorine.

Re:If it were my pool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44216379)

"dose"

too early.

If it were your gene pool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44219845)

... I'd let you.

Drop a few kilos of explosives down the chute (3, Funny)

Adult film producer (866485) | 1 year,21 days | (#44214887)

See if anything floats to the surface? Probably the easiest way to confirm.

Re:Drop a few kilos of explosives down the chute (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215169)

The hole is so deep, any water rising freezes against the ice walls, and caps it off.

Clean water? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215005)

So where am I supposed to get clean water for my scotch?

Re:Clean water? (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215227)

You can buy a jug of distilled water at virtually any grocery store in the country.

Re:Clean water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215663)

Why not your tap? I expect that's where a lot of your expensive 'distilled' water really comes from.

Re:Clean water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215849)

Distilled water is not for drinking...

Re:Clean water? (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,21 days | (#44216385)

It can be if you mix it with something (such as the aforementioned scotch).

Re:Clean water? (2)

shikaisi (1816846) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215777)

So where am I supposed to get clean water for my scotch?

Mandrake, I suggest you drink only distilled water, or rainwater, and only pure-grain alcohol.

Re:Clean water? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | 1 year,21 days | (#44216373)

So where am I supposed to get clean water for my scotch?

You're not. Not, that is, if you like scotch.

Re:Clean water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44217195)

Don't be absurd. Your scotch needs no water-- clean, frozen, or otherwise. Drink scotch when you drink scotch, and you'll no longer need to ask silly questions.

bigger fish (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215229)

There is probably a civilization of super piranha, that have been surviving by cannibalism for 15 million years, creating a race of super big, super powerful, mean, man eating monsters.

Re:bigger fish (0)

radiumsoup (741987) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215331)

to be fair to the fish: if they're cannibals, then they're not man-eating monsters.

Re:bigger fish (1)

Pendletoncils (2834733) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215525)

Poor whales

Re:bigger fish (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215839)

Cannibal is not like vegetarian, it is not exclusive.

Re:bigger fish (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,21 days | (#44216019)

I saw a documentary on Encore last year. They have a hankering for bouncing women in bikinis.

Re:bigger fish (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44216141)

Does not compute: Too much recursion!!!

Re:bigger jaws (1)

atomicxblue (1077017) | 1 year,21 days | (#44216395)

Sounds like a Siffy Channel Original Movie.. Cut! Print! :p

Re:bigger jaws (1)

Kelbear (870538) | 1 year,21 days | (#44217045)

I'm fairly sure that the GP was making a reference to the sci-fi novel "The Legacy of Heorot" by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes. Specifically, the life cycle of "Grendels".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legacy_of_Heorot [wikipedia.org]

Re:bigger fish (1)

Mattcelt (454751) | 1 year,19 days | (#44242825)

I'd be just as interested to find the men down there they've been eating...

"More than" (2, Insightful)

pentadecagon (1926186) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215429)

Could we please stop saying "more than" in scientific contexts, except when needed? This phrase is intended to denote situations where we just know a lower boundary of the correct value, but in recent time it's being (ab-)used mostly for a dramatic effect. I really wish people would either give precise figures, or when this is not practical, use the words invented to mark numbers as approximations, like "roughly" or "about". Statistically speaking, the difference is that "roughly" implies an effort to find a "simple" number close to the correct expectation value, but "more than" implies we picked just some number that's surely below the confidence interval.

Re:"More than" (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215617)

You've written more than enough.

Re:"More than" (4, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,21 days | (#44216369)

The exact number is 3,507. I hope you're now able to sleep well at night.

...and if you're curious, that number is actually extremely low by the standards for this type of experiment; they didn't analyse anywhere near enough data. Metagenomics is supposed to take up gigabytes of disk space; the amount of usable data they got was around 37 MB.

Not remotely an analog (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | 1 year,21 days | (#44215595)

So all frozen and liquid water was exactly the same for billions of years on Earth and it's impossible for any single celled organisms to have snuck in at any given time due to freezing, unfreezing, and water moving? Wow, amazing! What a self-contained astronomical quarantine!

Re:Not remotely an analog (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44216875)

So all frozen and liquid water was exactly the same for billions of years on Earth and it's impossible for any single celled organisms to have snuck in at any given time due to freezing, unfreezing, and water moving? Wow, amazing! What a self-contained astronomical quarantine!

There's a figure in the NBC article showing how the liquid lake water freezes onto the bottom of the ice sheet. The label is "accretion ice". If that is what you're ranting about. It's hard to be sure.

Great more species for global warming to kill off (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44215655)

This is just great. Now we will see that if there environment rises .001 degrees they will be wiped out and it will be our fault. Could we please go back to the 1980s when we were going to cause another global ice age! /end sarcasm

Quoting Jeff Goldblum (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,21 days | (#44216007)

Life...hmm...uh...will...uh...find a way.

global warming lol (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44216393)

Wait 35 million years ago we had global warming? more reasons that the earth warming up is nothing new and global warming is made up by Al Gore.

"Lake Vostok, which is 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from the South Pole, is thought to have been open to the air and surrounded by a forested ecosystem during the warmer climate that existed more than 35 million years ago. "At that time, the lake (which might have been a marine bay) probably contained a complex network of organisms," the researchers behind the PLOS ONE study suggest."

Have they found .... (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,21 days | (#44216503)

... the pyramid buried down there yet?

Contamination is a bitch (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44217487)

I do metagenomics in a Deep Biosphere project and have to wonder how this article even got published. I mean, 80% contamination rate is just insane. We've been plagued by contamination as well (1-3% that I can tell). Sure, it's easy to filter out e.g. human sequences from the data, but what about the 1,000 or so bacterial species that live on the human skin? They conveniently skip this part in the article..

Simple, really (0)

Type44Q (1233630) | 1 year,21 days | (#44217857)

I can explain the wide variety of genetic material in the water sample: one of the researchers was clearly into bestiality and possessed both a taste for a wide range of different species as well as poor hygiene. As for what he was doing with the borehole, we'll leave as an excercise for the reader.

Go 'Tards (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#44219267)

[...], a tardigrade (closest to Milnesium sp., a hardy, predatory, cosmopolitan, freshwater species; 93% identity) [...]

Outer space, inside of an electron microscope, under a million-year-old ice sheet, whatever. Water bear don't care.

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