March 16th, 2010
10:39 AM ET

NASA discovers life hidden 600 feet below Antarctic ice

A three-inch long Lyssianasid amphipod (seen in orange) was found on the underside of the McMurdo ice shelf in Antarctica.

Six hundred feet below the Antarctic ice, where no light can be found, NASA scientists made a startling discovery – a swimming shrimp-like creature that could challenge the idea of where and how forms of life can survive.

While the creature is small itself -– only about three inches long -– its impact could be tremendous.

A NASA team had lowered a small video camera to get the first-ever photograph of the underside of an ice shelf – and that’s when they saw the swimming creature, according to a NASA document.

The discovery could shake the very foundation of what kind of creatures can survive in certain atmospheres.

"We were operating on the presumption that nothing's there," NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler told the Associated Press. "It was a shrimp you'd enjoy having on your plate."

"We were just gaga over it," he told the AP.

The creature, a Lyssianasid amphipod, could lead the way for larger expeditions into harsher environments that scientists previously believed could not support life – both on the Earth and even frozen moons in outer space.

soundoff (608 Responses)
  1. Corey

    Pretty unbelievable. A brand new creature discovered by humans – and already we're thinking about eating it..

    March 16, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. Gee Gog

    Now we know where frozen shrimp come from.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. Henry Miller

    "It was a shrimp you'd enjoy having on your plate."

    That's the human race for you–its first reaction on the discovery of a new species is to eat it. 🙂

    March 16, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. bradz

    I believe that the first paragraph's reference to a "swimming creature" means it was found alive and swimming.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  5. Nick

    it said it was swimming, so it was most likely alive and not trapped in the ice.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jason

    It was alive. It was swimming around beneath the ice.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joshua G

    Wow...so this is what NASA spends money on?

    March 16, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. dan

    Why were they drilling 600 feet below the ice in the first place? the author can't just ignore facts like that

    March 16, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jill

    I think life can survive/live in pretty much any conditions.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. jk

    I wonder what that shrimp eats.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Amused

    I must point out how hilarious it is that an agency devoted to space exploration apparently made the assumption that just because a place lacked light and was inhospitable to human life, there would be no life.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • calabe

      amused i agree with you and isnt nasa supposed to be trying to find life on OTHER planets instead their finding........shrimp?

      June 1, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Stephen

    Coincidence that it was discovered during Lent? 😉

    March 16, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. JR

    Here we go again. Move over Shrimp we are taking over your home, and destroy it.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. Guest

    Any information about why it was not expected any form of life ? Temperature, pressure ?
    How that could be compared to more extreme conditions like in the Europa moon ?

    March 16, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. Marc

    In Texas, we would batter up the ice and deep fry THAT. So, no offense to the shrimp, really.

    March 16, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
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