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. imustandup

    It wasa "a swimming shrimp-like creature". Alive.

    March 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sf

    Alot of people seemed confused as to why nasa is undertaking this research. They are working on methods to efficiently drill through ice, in hopes of applying a similar protocol on other planets such as Mars etc. They have already found ice on other planets. Ice=h20, they are working on extracting h2(hydrogen) from the water and using that as a fuel source for space vehicle exploration,energy etc. That's why!

    March 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. davidn

    I don't understand the big deal of this story. I have been watching Blue Planet on the Science Channel. Last night's episode, scientists and camermen traveled thousands of feet down deep into the sea, and discovered that life existed in depths that are hard to conceive. They went down in a special sub to 2,000 and 3,000 feet, and showed strange fish and other animals. Then, they went down even further, to the actual bottom of the sea, in another titanium sub, 15,000 feet! And discovered that life even existed down there. They discovered species never seen before. Absolutely fascinating. So, with that in mind, is this story that big a deal?

    March 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Richard

    They said they found it swimming, it must have been alive. Cool stuff.

    March 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Robert Wasmer

    Dwight,

    Again, it is not a shrimp in the true sense of the word. It is an amphipod Not all shrimps live on the bottom. The ones I work on from the deep ocean are pelagic, which means they never live on the bottom. They are midwater dwellers, evem at great depths. The last new species of deep ocean shrimp I described was an abyssopelagic species.
    Abyssopelaigic generally refers to depths between 4000 m and 6000m. Many of these may be predatory on other smaller organisms or even feed on falling dead material of other organisms. They are adapted for swimming and not for dwelling on the bottom.

    March 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bill

    I like the comments that suggest we should stop the pursuit of science and discovery because it's too expensive or not understood. Where would the human race be without forward thinking people observing and learning about this world?

    March 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. qfmnq

    It is comments like " what is nasa doing there and such that keep us in the dark ages. Relize the scope of this find!

    March 16, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chuckles

    I believe the fellows point was that the shrimp very closely resembled those you would eat, and yes, it was very much alive.

    March 16, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bruce

    #9 above... The article says they were lowering the camera to take pictures of the underside of the ice shelf...

    March 16, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Timothy Moxley

    Call it idle curiosity but what the hell is NASA doing looking into a hole in the ice at the bottom of the world? The National Aeronautic Space Agency used to look skyward. Perhaps with all the "rightsizing" they're now tasked with multiple atmosphere analysis. i hope they bring back some calamari to prove they were actually there instead of just showing us another blurry photograph. Clover1

    March 16, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ges

    This story is so amazing and unbelieveable......... I love it soo much i am going to write my current event on it..

    March 16, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kurly

    NASA was looking for some acutal credible evidence of man made global warming, they have to fake the data everywhere else they have looked.

    March 16, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. news guy

    What a waste of money... taking a picture of the underside an ice shelf.

    They need to cancel the space program.

    Everyone know we can't live anywhere but Earth.

    What's the point?

    March 16, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Staci

    Cannot believe they still get surpirsed by things they didn't know existed. Just goes to show scientist's capacity for ignorance "GEE, we didn't think that could happen." Take a hint from Socrates, people. All I know is that I know nothing....

    March 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Demand less spending

    We need to demand that the most expensive parts of government cut back, and if NASA is one of the most expensive parts, then they need to be cut the MOST.

    Science is great, but so is budgeting!

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