In Antarctic sponges found under the ice shelf surprised scientists
The accidental discovery of marine organisms on a boulder on the sea floor beneath 900 metres of Antarctic ice shelf has led scientists to rethink the limits of life on Earth.
Animals like these aren’t expected to live in these extreme locations, because they are so far from sunlight and any obvious source of food.
“It’s slightly bonkers,” said Dr Huw Griffiths, a marine biogeographer at the British Antarctic Survey. “Never in a million years would we have thought about looking for this kind of life, because we didn’t think it would be there.”
Finding the sponges in this remote location, Griffiths said, was what made this discovery particularly perplexing.
“It’s this idea that there is a whole world that we know nothing about. The idea that there are lots more of these rocks down there. That would constitute a huge habitat that we didn’t know existed,” Griffiths said.