NASA finds shrimp dinner on ice beneath Antarctica

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cronxeh
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I am not sure if this was posted, or even if it belongs in Biology forum, but I found this a bit hinky

Is it plausible the sample was contaminated? What are the odds of 2 life forms being in such a remote location and with no food to sustain themselves?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100315/ap_on_sc/us_sci_antarctica_sea_life [Broken]

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein, Ap Science Writer – Mon Mar 15, 4:05 pm ET

WASHINGTON – In a surprising discovery about where higher life can thrive, scientists for the first time found a shrimp-like creature and a jellyfish frolicking beneath a massive Antarctic ice sheet.

Six hundred feet below the ice where no light shines, scientists had figured nothing much more than a few microbes could exist.

That's why a NASA team was surprised when they lowered a video camera to get the first long look at the underbelly of an ice sheet in Antarctica. A curious shrimp-like creature came swimming by and then parked itself on the camera's cable. Scientists also pulled up a tentacle they believe came from a foot-long jellyfish.

"We were operating on the presumption that nothing's there," said NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler, who will be presenting the initial findings and a video at an American Geophysical Union meeting Wednesday. "It was a shrimp you'd enjoy having on your plate."

"We were just gaga over it," he said of the 3-inch-long, orange critter starring in their two-minute video. Technically, it's not a shrimp. It's a Lyssianasid amphipod, which is distantly related to shrimp.

The video is likely to inspire experts to rethink what they know about life in harsh environments. And it has scientists musing that if shrimp-like creatures can frolic below 600 feet of Antarctic ice in subfreezing dark water, what about other hostile places? What about Europa, a frozen moon of Jupiter?

"They are looking at the equivalent of a drop of water in a swimming pool that you would expect nothing to be living in and they found not one animal but two," said biologist Stacy Kim of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California, who joined the NASA team later. "We have no idea what's going on down there."

Microbiologist Cynan Ellis-Evans of the British Antarctic Survey called the finding intriguing.

"This is a first for the sub-glacial environment with that level of sophistication," Ellis-Evans said. He said there have been findings somewhat similar, showing complex life in retreating ice shelves, but nothing quite directly under the ice like this.

Ellis-Evans said it's possible the creatures swam in from far away and don't live there permanently.

But Kim, who is a co-author of the study, doubts it. The site in West Antarctica is at least 12 miles from open seas. Bindschadler drilled an 8-inch-wide hole and was looking at a tiny amount of water. That means it's unlikely that that two critters swam from great distances and were captured randomly in that small of an area, she said.

Yet scientists were puzzled at what the food source would be for these critters. While some microbes can make their own food out of chemicals in the ocean, complex life like the amphipod can't, Kim said.

So how do they survive? That's the key question, Kim said.

"It's pretty amazing when you find a huge puzzle like that on a planet where we thought we know everything," Kim said.
 
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low!
 
  • #3
lisab
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I am not sure if this was posted, or even if it belongs in Biology forum, but I found this a bit hinky

Is it plausible the sample was contaminated? What are the odds of 2 life forms being in such a remote location and with no food to sustain themselves?
Maybe they take turns eating each other.
 
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cronxeh
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and why is it orange? shouldnt it be transparent? There is no light there, high pressure and that amphipod is orange?
 
  • #5
Evo
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It was the beginning of a new breed of life adaptable to extreme conditions, and we just broke the chain. :wink:
 
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i think its more possible that it swap there or was carried there, or has some sort of shrimp amnesia. i think that it could have just got lost and kept swimming or something. but the fact that there are two forms of life leads me to believe otherwise. I'm sure the scientists will be doing a lot of research there until they come up with a good conclusion.
 
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cronxeh
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Well they pulled out a tentacle, and I am guessing they extrapolated the tentacle's size to come up with an estimate that it was a foot-long jellyfish. I think that deranged orange shrimp ate the jellyfish and it wasn't 2 species.. it was the shrimp and its lunch :confused:

And another thing.. saying 600 feet below ice is not the same as saying 600 feet below water. What were the exact pressures? Maybe it was a cracked up ice from all the 'global warming' and the shrimp with jellyfish just waddled in there through the cracks and the pressure was just 1 atm the whole time?

Since this is NASA, the research should be in public domain. Its kind of unfair that the research is paid for by the public funds and yet we have to wait for him to publish the paper taking the credit. :grumpy:
 
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Since this is NASA, the research should be in public domain. Its kind of unfair that the research is paid for by the public funds and yet we have to wait for him to publish the paper taking the credit. :grumpy:
I agree completely with this statement, however I guess in order to keep funds they have to keep research private until they draw conclusions... so that way it looks like they are more results oriented??

It's true though that it should all be public domain regardless of the situation (unless it pertains to something like national security etc.)
 

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