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. joshua

    They say it was swimming, everyone then assumes its in water and not in the frozen ice... wrap your minds around this theory. The organism (shrimp like beast) has the ability to curve the stiff molecular bonds of ice and swim freely through ice! Thus having a creature parallel to the organisms that were in the Kevin Bacon movie Tremors!! Scientist watch out they may shoot out of the ice at any place and moment!! RUN RUN!!

    March 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Qasim Abdullah

    "A shrimp is a creature that eats smaller typically organic material, any idea what this was eating?"
    This is what i thought the first time i've seen the picture.
    Well according to me its a great find,its always good to explore the world we live in. There are still innumerable things on this planet which we have not discovered yet, may be this is the first step towards a huge find which will change the way we look at our very planet?
    no one knows what secrets are to be uncovered,i actually like someone taking the steps to explore in the most harsh environments of the planet but really why does it has to be NASA? 😀
    They launched themselves to Europa and they crashed in the Antartic and they mistaken the place to be Europa and started Drilling? Hahahahha

    March 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Embarrassed

    Post 41 "Only God can create this creature, stop trying to think with science. It doesn't make sense. Posted by: AlwyzAtChrch"

    Dear AlwyzAtChrch,
    Are you serious? If you believe God created shrimp you must also believe that he created the laws of nature, physics, etc. BTW that is science if it doesn't make sense to you. Christians should celebrate scientific discovery with everyone else, it would just give them a better understanding of the Mind behind this wonderful universe (via creation or evolution based on your opinion). Get out and enjoy the world instead of being Always at Church.

    P.S. I personally apologize on behalf of Christians for our apparent need to defend God and in the process expose our ignorance.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. brutuscz

    Why are people so stupid?? The comments here are painful and simple minded. How do you think discoveries are made? Think of the questions that arise from this simple little shrimp. How does it see, in a no light environmnet. How does it locate food? How does it digest food. How does it's blood exist and hold oxygen in those temperatures...without freezing? A million useful things can be discovered by the finding of this one little shrimp. The medical disoveries might be incredible. People are so short sighted, and it is very sad. Use my taxes for this research and I am thrilled. Better than using my taxes to fund a useless war in iraq!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    Pass the shrimp sauce, please.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jim mills

    sounds tasty

    March 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeffery Flowers

    The shrimp may have swum under the ice from the Antarctic Ocean. That may also explain where the nutriants came from to support the shrimp.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cmulier

    As I write this I bet you will spend more time reading all of these comments than NASA spent looking for life below the ice – or maybe they were looking for Oil and found a shrimp. I am dying – some of you are hilarious ...

    March 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. notborncynical

    Congratulations – NASA spent who knows how much to video the bottom of an iceberg and discover a small shrimp species. Can we put that type of energy and tax payer money into solving some real problems?

    March 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rhino

    To those who are complaining that NASA is in the antarctic instead of focusing on space please realize this ... The antarctic ice provides the similar conditions as some of the moons that we hope to explore in the future. It was probably at training exepedition and they happened to come across this discovery. These people that complain of irresponsible use of US Tax dollars need to realize that NASA will likely provide the US and the world with some of the most important discoveries for the years to come. I encourace people to use their heads for one rather than trying to push GOD into every scientific finding.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Casper

    Mmmmm shrimp! Bring on the coctail sauce.

    March 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FYS

    Yeah, I agree with Doge (224) – It sounds exactly like that book by Dan Brown.. Maybe he knew something we don't? 🙂

    March 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ConspiracyTheorist

    How do we know they didn't just drop the shrimp down the hole they drilled? The shrimp could have been bought at Piggly Wiggly, brought along in a zip lock baggie, and conveniently planted...only to 'miraculously' be discovered. And another thing, isn't it odd they can find tiny little shrimp under 600 feet of ice, yet they can't seem to locate Nessie? Or a clear photo of Bigfoot?

    March 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Robert Schadbindler

    In the wide angle shot (not the one on CNN) is that a merican flag beside the shrimp?

    March 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sue

    I don't understand how this shrimp could live at that depth and retain color pigment without sunlight. Isn't that unusual?

    March 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
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