A group of scientists have discovered “strange creatures” under a 900-metre thick ice shelf of the Antarctic, according to an article published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.
By drilling through ice of the Filchner-Ronne shelf, the scientists accidentally discovered animals looking like sponges and possibly other unknown species attached to a boulder on the sea floor.
“We were expecting to retrieve a sediment core from under the ice shelf, so it came as a bit of a surprise when we hit the boulder and saw from the video footage that there were animals living on it,” said James Smith, a geologist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
According to a statement by the BAS, this was the first study to find stationary animals in such conditions, as very few other species had been observed at a distance of 260km from the open ocean, in complete darkness and temperatures of minus 2.2 degrees.
“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,” study co-author and BAS biogeographer Huw Griffiths said.
The scientists said the animals were 1500km away from a source of photosynthesis.
“Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there? What are they eating?,” Mr Griffiths said.