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. Kristi

    For the record, this shrimp is not a new discovery, only its location at this depth is new.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rick Stevens

    Staring in the origins of "District 9 "

    March 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ken Pontac

    The ignorance of many of these "anti-science" comments is disturbing. Americans are getting dumber by the day. The movie "Idiocracy" is sadly prophetic.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. slogadget

    Couple of questions come to mind:
    1. Why are these animals not white like most animals found in caves (no exposure to light)?
    2. How did NASA ensure that in the process of drilling or inserting the camera, that they did not introduce the animals from the surface (or near surface)?

    So perhaps the shrimp is much like what we eat today, because it is the same thing as what we eat today (NASA introduced it to the depth.

    Just a thought.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ruinsane

    It was an ice shelf. Therefore, it was floating in the ocean. What's so surprising about finding a shrimp in the ocean?

    March 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rich

    What did the drillers have for dinner the night before? Seafood by chance? Maybe one fell down the hole they drilled.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bert

    The search for knowledge inspires us as a species, at least some of us. I am happy to have my tax dollars spent on such a venture. These expeditions cost a mere fraction of our military adventures. Let's be more thoughtful how we spend THOSE resources.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JP

    The article reflects typically weak reporting by CNN. Many more questions than answers. True, that is almost always the case with pure research, but in this case I am talking about questions that have answers, and that a reporter should have asked. For instance: Is it a fresh or salt water shrimp? NASA drilling on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and Ross Ice Shelf is often done over land (remember Antarctic is a landmass). Parts of the Ross Ice Shelf are actually well inland. So was this borehole over open seawater, or over an inland lake or stream (yes, both liquid freshwater lakes and streams exist beneath the ice)? Also, as one person pointed out, is this a new species, or not? Seems to be a previously known species, but that is not clear. And last, would the shrimp be best enjoyed pan seared in butter, or served chilled with a spicy cocktail sauce?

    March 16, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SS

    I'd rather have my taxes go to scientific studies like this then feeding lazy worthless sob's.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Christian

    What if eating the shrimp is the cure for AIDS?

    March 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    I wonder if the shrimp was alive? Or was it stuck in the frozen ice, lifeless. Or was it floating in the very cold, salty water.......... ????????

    haha j/k guys. Can't believe how many people keep asking this, READ THE COMMENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and more importantly, RE-READ THE ARTICLE!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Animal Eater

    For the comments condemning the "shrimp you would enjoy on your plate" statement:

    Get over yourselves and realize you are a member of a species that evolved to the point that we have BECAUSE we eat animals. Lots of protein = Big BRAINS! We found a new species of delicious shrimp, of course one of the first things humans will naturally think is just how can we cook up this bad boy!?! The word "naturally" was used because it is NATURAL that humans eat meat. It's who we are. Deny it all you want, but you are descended from millions of years worth of meat eaters. Now go grab yourself a nice, big, fat steak and chill out.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mecha

    One, if you want to be taken seriously, spell check!

    Two, who knows what we could discover down there, it's human nature to explore.

    Three, I find it highly unlikely that a camera dropped into below freezing water is going to be carrying some sort of bacteria or virus that would harm the creature(s) that live in this below freezing water.

    Four, leave God out of this. Science and God fearing beliefs will never find common ground, so why bring it up unless you are a complete tool. Look close enough you might see Jesus' face in the drill marks. Give me a break.

    Five, some more information about the "shrimp" and the conditions would have been nice.

    Six, take it as an interesting news story and quit trying to blame the worlds problems on a hole in the ice in the Antarctic. The worlds problem are certainly more complex of an issue.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jimbo

    Uhhhhh...NASA...the sky is UP there...not down there. Another wasted gazillion dollars.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JakeVIP

    One last stand by shrimp. This frozen yum yum will be the savior for all shrimp.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
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