Life exists at unsuspected depths under the ice floe – rts.ch

A British scientific team has found life forms deep beneath the Antarctic sea ice, hundreds of kilometers from the slightest ray of sunlight. This discovery, made somewhat by chance, is very unexpected.

The British Antarctic Survey was looking for underwater mud. And for that, the scientists drilled a hole 900 meters deep in the ice floe to lower a camera under the ice, then to the seabed. But once on the ground, the camera came face to face with a rock encrusted with more or less identified animals: sponges and what looks like crustaceans.

Their particularity is that they are immobile organisms, which therefore cannot move to feed. However, the darkness is total under the ice and the place is hundreds of kilometers from the first ray of sun probably necessary to produce their food.

>> British Antarctic Survey video:

“Just impossible” conditions

For Daniel Cherix, biologist and honorary professor at the University of Lausanne, it is truly astonishing. “If a normally constituted biologist is not surprised, it is because he has a problem,” he said on Wednesday in La Matinale de la RTS. “To go in such conditions, to incredible depths, without light, in conditions which seem just impossible for life and to discover organisms which are not just single-celled, me that exceeds me a little!”.

It is possible that a little plankton is occasionally carried by the currents, but the place is in any case not abundant, underlines Daniel Cherix.

Limits of life on Earth pushed back

Under such extreme conditions of temperature, pressure, or light, you may be dealing with very old organisms, which grow extremely slowly and may only feed on very rare occasions.

Either way, this discovery pushes back what were once thought to be the limits of life on Earth.

Lucia Sillig / oang

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