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. Dwight

    Well, shrimp are bottom feeders. So, what's on the bottom???

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

    and once again another Special Eddie they said it was a 'living creature' which most likely means it is not frozen

    March 16, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Thomas

    Are we surprised to find life in such conditions because the conditions are so vastly different from those in which we survive? Doesn't that say something about our egocentricity?

    March 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Who cares. This means next to nothing in my mind, but I'm sure our government will waste some more money on more research of this creature and possibly others and in ten years will find another discovery that is useless.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. scott

    Interesting CNN....I post something about not believing in God and it doesn't make it through the screening. However a whole bunch of others can say whatever they want about religion in support of God. At least be consistent!

    March 16, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. HumanObserver

    It is clear, based on the comments made in the forums, that most humans are idiots. Scientific discoveries, even as small as some seem to be, are important to a larger picture.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. August West

    They're going gaga over the new shrimp and me too. I'd like mine beer-batter fried with some cocktail sauce please.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DoubleW

    I'm really astonished at the degree of vitriol from all the Creationists and anti-science types out there. Isn't this an odd and fascinating discovery, with implications about possible life on other planets? Perhaps that's what arouses the fury of these good folk.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michael

    Thank you, Jeff. I'd go so far as to say 99.75%. This was my favorite, "I always thought NASA was just about Space, now at least I know where my tax payer dollars are going to find a new shrimp cocktail , dont worry about AIDS cures or feeding the third world this is far more important." Rather perfect I think...a lack of understanding of NASA's need to study hostile environments, some AIDS guilt, a touch of implied racism, and a shrimp cocktail!

    March 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    Why are we drilling? Couldn't we just wait a couple of years for all of the polar ice to melt like we've been told it will?

    March 16, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. FEDup

    I am a scientist so I find this stuff pretty neat. However, at the present time with an already exploded deficit I think this project is yet another example of how the FEDS think taxpayer dollars are a bottomless pit. Yes, the science IS important but needs to wait until we can actually afford to pay for it.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. NellBa

    Many here seem to object to any real scientific reaserach, not just this antarctic example. So why do we spend immensely larger sums in schools teaching about the oceans, the earth, the planets,the universe etc when they are never going to use it in their jobs at MacDonalds?

    March 16, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jim

    if they origonally thought that there was nothing down there, then why the heck did they blow all that money in the first place to take a look. what a waste... they got real lucky this time, but i guess if i was gambling with billions of dollars of someone elses money i'd hit big some time too.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ulysses

    The reason for NASA exploring under Antarctic ice is a good one. They're thinking of exploring certain watery moons of Jupiter and Saturn which are thought to be potentially hospitable to life. By looking for live in the very similar environment under Antarctica, they learn a lot about whether such a trip would be worthwhile, and develop technology to help navigate such an environment. If you're not smart enough to understand why the question of microbes on other planets is a worthwhile use of tax dollars, then just try and appreciate all the commercial (job-creating) applications for the technologies developed as a result of NASA projects like this. If that's still not enough for you, try to remember that a democratic government is an extension of the will of the people, and we can spend our money as we collectively please.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Grammatical Science

    Just for the record, "swimming" as an adjective could apply to something that no longer swims because it's dead, but if it were alive it would have the capability of swimming (e.g., there are dinosaurs that were flying creatures, but clearly were not found actively flying). In other words, it is unclear whether the article used the word as an adjective or a gerund. So, can anyone at NASA please clarify whether the creature was found alive or merely preserved in ice mid-stroke)?

    March 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
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