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. isotope

    The conservatives in this thread, with their kneejerk anti-government responses, are the reason that I fear for the future of science in America.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dsl

    GEOM, I agree with you about those bashing science. These people are enjoying the cornocupia of products that science has created, but are too ignorant to realize that. Bread and circus for them...and then let Rome burn!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dwighthuth

    No the first instinct for humans when it discovers something that it can eat is too hit it with a rock, then eat it.
    This new type of shrimp should open up a new industry that wouldrival even the sea capatains that fish the worlds deadliest catch. The shrimp should be very tasty as well since it comes from such a deep source of water where there are no pollutants to make the shrimp non-edible. Coming from the scientifiic side of the house as well the space exploration corner of the house this discovery should open up new theories on how life evolved millions and billions of years ago. Since light does not penetrate the 600 feet deep waters then perhaps this shrimp was around during the time when the oceans were still forming and much shallower, then as the oceans grew in depth the shrimp adapted to the new depths over sequential generations of passing DNA to it's offsrping. For space exploration this can now mean that planets that arte mostly water would have an increased probablity of supporting such life as this shrimp to around 70% which would make life unique to the Universe in one form or another and not just unique on Earth. I can see it now the first interstellar shrimp boat with the name Bubba Gump Shrimping Enterprise on the side of it. But the only way that we are going to get to these planets is too invest in the future of space exploration. So how much do you think a pound of premium exotic Neptunian Shrimp should cost?

    March 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |

    Wonder what this cost the tax payers. I say we stop all funding on these type of explorations until we get out country back in shape. The shrimp can wait.

    March 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Richard

    how can we exploit the crap out of it, is there anything of value down there, what does it taste like and do you need a fork to eat it?
    lastly. o yeah!!! almost forgat , Pfifer wants to know if they can be use to cure anything?

    March 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. danielj776

    AWESOME! – Millions of dollars spent to find a 3 inch long shrimpy!! Even better yet – they put cameras down there because they DIDN"T expect to find life. Awesome. What's our defecit as a nation currently? Hmmm... Smart move. A 3 inch shrimp rates higher than the 10% unemployment rate. A 3 inch shrimp rates higher than this healthcare debate. A 3 inch shrimp rates higher than the recession we are STILL facing. That's just wonderful.
    Smart one Nasa....

    March 16, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nick

    Wow, there sure are a lot of experts in here. Thanks to dsl and GEOM for putting things in perspective. Big find!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |


    March 16, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Matt

    I am happy Nasa is spending my tax dollars on new and interesting discoveries. One of our greatest strengths is our desire for knowledge and understanding. Without it, we would still be living in the stone age. Keep up the great work NASA!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Matt

    Bubba Gump already called out "ice shelf shrimp" in the movie... n-ice try NASA

    March 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. john

    hey take it easy on Jammamon! As if u havn't ever asked a stupid question, you know the phrase there are no stupid questions, well, there are, so take it easy, and for the people talking bout the terrible NASA foundation at work, I totally agree, i mean, what comes to your mind when u hear of a bunch of guys in the arctic, drilling holes, and sticking cameras down 'em? .......NASA, stands for National Air and Space Association, so where do these water and ice scientists come from?

    March 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Aerian

    Fantastic! Just affirms what I've always can exist anywhere. How crazy to think only Earth has life. Now lets get to exploring space!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lee

    To those concerned about bringing back some odd virus, etc. the sea under the polar shelf is open to the oceans. It is not no an completely isolated area that is being opened up. Its the polar shelf, not the polar cap!!!! The Ross ice shelf floats on the ocean!!!

    Nasa is involved in a lot of earth based exploration for a variety of reasons, including understanding what they might meet in space!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jack

    So you are saying that "science" was wrong about where life can live. Is there a possibility that "science" is wrong about the causes of climate change? Tell me it ain't so!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wayne Hansler

    NASA should stick to space exploration. What a bunch of idiots,...." they had no idea that life could exist in these earth conditions"? Come on guys..go probe Saturn or Venus and collect some gases from their atmosphere, maybe then you'll find a useful source of energy or fuel.
    This just in: EARTH IS FULL OF LIFE! 😮

    March 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
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