posted on Aug, 20 2014 @ 05:06 PM
It seems that the "wetlands" of Antarctica are home to a thriving ecosystem. Samples taken from lakes under the sheet ice revealed some amazing
results. Mostly the sheer ability for life to adapt and adjust to its surroundings. The complexity of life on this planet is truly amazing.
"Our discovery proves that water is habitable space, even if it's at sub-zero temperatures and there is no sunlight," says John Priscu of Montana
State University in Bozeman. He co-led the US team that drilled into Lake Whillans, 800 metres beneath the west Antarctic ice sheet.
The finding is good news for astrobiologists hoping to discover life elsewhere in the solar system: in the ocean beneath the frozen surface of
Jupiter's moon Europa, for instance, or clinging on under the Martian polar ice caps.
Antarctica is home to about 400 subglacial lakes, many of which are linked in drainage basins. Priscu calls it "the planet's largest wetland".
Now they used a very specific process to not cross contaminate so thats been pretty much ruled out. Here is the process via their description .
Priscu's team broke into Lake Whillans in January 2013, using hot water to melt a 60-centimetre-diameter hole through the ice. The water used was
kept sterile using filters, heating, ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide. That should lay to rest any suggestion that the microbes found were
contaminants from the surface.
The scientist that did this work was surprised by the cell densities in the water samples.
"They are very similar to what you'd find in low-nutrient lakes on the surface or in the open ocean."
The team found almost 4000 species of single-celled organisms (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature13667). Most seem to be feeding on sediments on the lake
bed, laid down when the area was last ice-free and under the ocean, at least 120,000 years ago.
Many of the microbes convert ammonium to nitrite. The most common species, accounting for about 13 per cent of the DNA sequences found, takes that
nitrite and converts it to nitrate. Others seem to feed on methane.
Not only is this exciting for our earth-based ecosystems, it could imply a lot for astrobiologist. It seems Jurasic Park said it best " Life will
find a way".
Now with this story and the one about plankton on the outside of ISS makes for an exciting week for the little guys, literaly.
(not sure if its been completely confirmed ) www.abovetopsecret.com...
So what say you ATSers, is this exciting and ground breaking? Is it just a meh..., or is it yawn worthy?
I personally find it very exciting.
edit on 20-8-2014 by CitizenJack because: (no reason given)
edit on 20-8-2014 by CitizenJack because: (no reason
edit on 20-8-2014 by CitizenJack because: linkys
edit on 20-8-2014 by CitizenJack because: pics or it didnt