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. ceedub

    bmsvds wrote: " testament to the close-mindedness of science & how scientific theory can be very wrong."

    Wow, bmsvds, I'm amazed at how willing you are to demonstrate your lack of understanding of scientific theory. Creating a scientific theory is all about the peer-review process. You give the entire world enough information about your theory so that they can either support or contest your theory, and then you see how the chips fall via the pack-and-forth process. This is the complete opposite of "close-mindedness".

    If you have a theory as to how evolution is wrong (which is where you were really going with your comments, bmsvdf), then submit your supporting experimentation to a peer reviewed periodical, and then you'll see if your theory holds up.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. David

    See... We don't need the Moon program afterall!

    March 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CNN Surfer

    I lost my Shrimp when I went to Antarctica expidition last year!
    Thank god its alive!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Barb

    oh and to the people posting comments saying leave the researchers alone.......please note that when someone gets a million dollar grant to study "something" ......about 90% goes to that professor/faculty/scientist SALARY.........and 10% actually goes to supplies to do the study. It's a way that some faculty make a living. Why would they want to discover a cure.........they would be out of a big fat government paycheck. I know this first hand. If you don't ..... please don't comment.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    I bet the NASA scientist's had a bunch of beer uptop, grabbed thier poles and figured this would be the best spot for some ice fishin.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jkeat

    This is great. Another species for us to endanger. Good thing we found it–otherwise it might have survived for thousands of more years.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. marjorieanne

    This is better reading than CNN news! Wish I had a good laugh like this everyday. Com'on folks, lighten up. It isn't Dec.21st, 2012. Take it as it is and roll with the flow. I'm looking for more info on the SHRIMP! Keep up the good work NASA!

    March 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. samurai lincoln

    Can't say I'm all that surprised. I liked the comment though 'now we know where frozen shrimp come from' haha

    March 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nathan

    It's not a shrimp! It's an amphipod! Humans don't eat amphipods, typically baleen whales do.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cristine

    So the national AIR and SPACE administration is now poking their noses around under ice shelfs? Anything to drop a few mil $ on...

    March 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. daniel

    Why are you all freaking out about eating a shrimp? They are delicious!

    March 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark

    Regardless of the shrimp, what did they expect the bottom of an ice shelf to look like? "Look, the bottom of this ice is also ice!"

    March 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ShrimEater

    mmmm.. Tasty! I'll take a 3 pounds and fry them up!
    Its the only way to be PART of your environment... 🙂

    March 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cory

    NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler, you sir are an idiot.

    Nine billion of animals slaughtered for meat isn't good enough, you have to make a stupid comment about eating a newly found species.

    Do you want to take meat-eating to space as well? Horrendous.

    March 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Terry

    I am not amazed at the why NASA drilled through the ice...but I am amazed at who wrote the article without anything to say except what was said!! I am also amazed that anyone would think that 600 feet below the ice is any worse than 600 ft below the surface of water up there without the ice. The ice is actually the coldest right? Water freezes and rise to the top! The pressure at 600 ft of water is still 600 ft of water!!! The absence of light as the article wrote about is not a issue as life has been found deeper and in place where the light is zero! SO the real test here must have been can NASA drill through ice?? I think the artcle got the response it wanted....say bad things about NASA! I think I wasted my lunch time reading this CNN artcle and commenting on this at all!! But maybe the author will explain more? Maybe the author will understand with a little more research on THEIR own that the water carries oxygen and that fish swim in water and that they don't have to come up for air and that life should be plentiful there! Just maybe the author studied more than English in High School and ventured into the science class and stayed awake? Or maybe he/she will in the future??

    March 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
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