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. rachele

    I think it's fascinating, but it got my appetite worked up for shrimp. Maybe prawns would be better. That shrimp looks awfully tiny.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff

    ....a couple scallops, a leek or two and we could have ourselves a celebration!!

    Seriously, This would have been been more interesting if it was on Mars or Saturn. There are shrimp species all over the lakes, oceans, bays, rivers and underground caverns etc. Find me Jimmy Hoffa!

    March 16, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sun52shine

    Are they sure, the shimpthing is not someone lunchs? Believe none of what your hear, part of what you see and sometimes believe neither!

    March 16, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cliche

    I for one welcome our new shrimp overlords.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Fred

    sounds a littke like a Dan Brown book (Deception Point )

    March 16, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. durrrr

    " this is what NASA spends money on?"

    What did you expect them to spend their money on... Fighitng wars? Building roads? Stopping disease? Building schools? Hiring teachers?

    What, exactly, do you think NASA should spend money on? Do you know what NASA stands for? Even if you meant to say that NASA was all about space flight, and this falls outside the realm of that kind of science, I would disagree with you. These are remote, hard to reach, places on the Earth that might share the harsh environments of certain moons.

    NASA.. They are researchers, explorers, people at the cutting edge of science. Even if suffers from bloat as do all levels of government, NASA is the least funded of them all. What's your beef with NASA? They aren't spending money on humanitarian aid? Not enough money spent on pure space pursuits?

    I hope your not suggesting a misappropriation of funds.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. stunned

    All I have to do to be reminded how stupid people are is to the comments section of almost any news article.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JAT

    Perhaps the shrimp didn't live under the ice but swam down the hole from above?

    March 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John

    It pains me to see some of the near sighted ignorant responses to scientific discovery and the overall advancement of human knowledge and understanding of our world. If it can't power my SUV and if I can't invest it, what good is it! Oh well such is life. A small minority of intelligent minds advancing an entire species and getting ridiculed for it. I'm shocked some these people are even reading the news...

    March 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Scott

    Hah! The best example of irony is someone upset at CLOSING PUBLIC SCHOOLS for funding dumb projects like this... where do we think all of that information comes from we teach in schools? Oh ya, thinkers looking for answers.

    Oh, by the way... a lot of scientific discoveries are unforeseen byproducts of unrelated study attempts... penicillin, x-rays, pasteurization... The people that discovered those kinds of things that help us live longer and eat better sure must have been complete idiots in wasting their time with whatever they were studying. Once we learned a little bit about farming, humans should have quit progressing there and just fed everyone until we died at age 35. Right?

    March 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paul

    Although i want to scream at the ignorant people who can't understand the correlation between investing in science and knowledge, with how is this going to help create jobs or feed people. It is an INVESTMENT which takes time to develop people. I will give these people a break and not call them names because they were either educated by our wonderful piblic school systems or warped by religious propoganda. Most if not all of the current technological wonders came from investing in the military or scienficic research, which probably seemed to be a waste of money at the time, but everything from cell phones to polymers used in just about every facet of modern life are a result of our investment in science and space. Eventually, this investment creates many jobs and feeds millions of people. Ever hear the one: "give them a loaf of bread and they eat for a week, but teach them to fish and farm and they can feed themselves?" The Big Dumb Government isn't simply doing this to waste money, although millions are wasted every year. The one discovery, like the computer or the drug that cures cancer, will either create many jobs or save thousands of lives. That is really what all this is about...and keeping the USA number one. What if the cure is out there, but we decide to stop research? What if the answer to our energy problems is on one of these moons and we decided to create a handful of menial jobs with the money instead? That is what other countries do and why we still lead...

    March 16, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. durrrr

    "other than researchers who will no doubtedly submit some sort of grant request for millions to study this........who care?"

    If you don't care, why did you bother to even respond to this article??
    You see, some people find this type of research very interesting and beneficial to the overall knowledgege contained by mankind. Science is a tool that will work forever, because it will never answer all the questions that you want to ask. Science might never directly answer the question "Who Cares?". But cenutries later, it sure does. I bet nobody cared about tiny little viruses too small for the eye to see until they were discovered. Before they were discovered and people were dying from plagues, I bet a bunch of simpletons were running off their mouths, saying "Who Cares? What does this have to do with anything?" Without knowledge, you have only your ignorance.

    It could very well be that this tiny shrimp holds the key to the cure for some odd disease. But you would never know what the possibilities were unless you uncover everything. And therein lies the beauty of science. You might not understand what good space travel is going to do any of us, but I have a very good feeling that after many subsequent generations, they will have a good idea of why it is important to them (IF we survive that long...)

    March 16, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jack

    "Once again, God proves that He knows what is going on and we are just guessing."

    If he knew what was going on, why would he create life in such an inhabitable place? Please, you creationists have to start opening your eyes to what's around you. Believe in science, not in fairy tales.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. gems

    The ignorance of most of these comments is simply amazing... It is NASA's mission to explore both outer and inner space... The more we learn and discover about the boundaries of life on this planet the better we will be able to preserve what's left here... Also remember that a big part of being a human means the need to continually explore the world and universe around us... When we stop exploring and learning we will die as a species...

    March 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. K

    But before we eat it, we need to inject hormones and other growth related steroids into it so it will look and taste like chicken.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
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