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. Lyssianasid Samphipod

    If the BBC wanted CNN to have the other pictures wouldn't htey have sent them to them?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lyssianasid Samphipod

    Maybe nasa is mixed up as to what is or is not a real black hole?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JM in CA

    There is no evidence that smallpox was "used maliciously" on the Native Americans. We know that some British officers during Pontiac's War considered it, and there is some evidence suggesting, but not demonstrating conclusively, some blankets handed out elsewhere shortly afterward that may, or may not, have been infected with smallpox, but as for evidence of any kind of organized germ warfare actually implemented as a tactic against Native Americans? Not a whit.

    Millions of Native Americans succumbed to the smallpox imported by European colonizers, and that is tragic. But learn your history before you go infecting the internet with misinformation.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Frank

    Here's a better idea...

    Leave it alone.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    After viewing all the negative comments, I realize why America is falling behind in the world. All you folks care about is beer, hamburgers, cigarettes and football. You don’t want to pay taxes to support government research so you can have more money to blow t on unnecessary nonsense. Any truly amazing discoveries are meaningless to the vast majority of you. What did you do when you went to high school and college? Did you take any science courses? Did you sleep through them? The sciences and scientists are what move us forward. If the vast majority of you were the decision makers and leaders we would still be living in caves and wiping our butts with our hands.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dana


    How many millions did we spend to find this one? And for what?

    The greatest thing about the whole story is that we sent an expedition to the Antarctic do drill down 600 feet expecting to find nothing!! Yeah Baby!

    March 16, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. What If?

    What's the shelf life of that shrimp species now?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lyssianasid Amphipods

    Oh, there goes the neighborhood, again.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JBritt

    MLNonet, you are presuming that this "invasive bacteria" would survive in the new territory. If there were any bacteria on the camera, it would be bacteria suitable for pressures on and around the surface. Not only does the drastically lower temperatures at the bottom of the shelf make it uninhabitable for these bacteria the pressure would do just the same. Its like putting the bacteria in a huge, freezing pressure cooker. This would be something similar to polar bear at the top of Mt. Everest. Yes, a polar bear is used to the cold climate, but the air pressure would destroy his lungs and he would have no food source to metabolize. Exotic invasive species are usually transported from one suitable habitat to one similar to their native habitat. This is not the case here, sorry.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joseph

    Mecha, I'm with you.

    Human Curiosity... that's what keeps our mind expanding. As poor a job as CNN may be doing, everytime I see new photos from Hubble or discoveries about our own little world, I am reminded that the more we learn, the more we find out that there's so much more.

    To try to label science as anything other than an expression of our curiosity, our desire to find out more about ourselves and the world that surrounds us (and yes, that includes the whole universe), and that relentless pursuit for knowledge seems to be time wasted.

    Let's not take away that curiosity from our children by imposing religious, economic, moral, and social censorship.

    Go shrimp, go!

    March 16, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tbone

    Some people are so short sighted and ignorant. Nasa money should be spent however they feel it should be spent. Chances are they are a lot smarter than the dolts that are suggesting we shouldn't have a budget for NASA. Some of the very things that you enjoy most like "reality tv" wouldn't be possible if it weren't for the advancement of science and technology. Go read a book and perhaps you will be better able to put things in perspective...

    March 16, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ray

    Say, why don't we eat all the shrimp then when they are gone melt the ice and build condos. We could call the settlement shrimpLand.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ron

    This discovery could lead to better solutions to surviving cold tempertures ...future generations will experience colder weather.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. AJ

    Did they find any oil?

    March 16, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. x5studios

    They left out the part where they found some cocktail sauce at 601 feet.

    March 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
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