Friday, September 18, 2009

2,800 Year-Old Bacteria in Antarctica

Once of the reasons ASOC wants the project to drill into Antarctica's Lake Vostok to use environmentally-friendly technology is that we suspect there might be some unusual life under that ice and we don't want it contaminated by outside materials before it can be studied. Results from samples taken Lake Vida, a salt lake buried beneath ice, illustrate the reasons for these concerns. Using extremely sanitary drills, researchers previously retrieved samples containing bacteria, which, since bacteria are apparently superior to animals as far as longevity is concerned, were able to be thawed back to life despite being 2,800 years old. But now they're going back, this time drilling through the ice, into the water, then into the sediment underneath the water. Once again, they're taking the utmost precautions to make sure they don't contaminate their samples or introduce anything untoward into this mysterious ecosystem. It's worth it if they make more amazing discoveries. Wonder what they'll find? Probably more interesting bacteria, but I'm also keeping my fingers crossed for a brine-dwelling, cold-resistant lake monster.


Roxy said...

Isn't that were they dropped off "The Blob" after they froze it? Better be careful :)

Fascinating to think that we can discover such life in such conditions. It's hard to fathom any being staying alive for 2,800 years.

Claire said...

Exactly. This is why I'm holding out for a lake monster.

But definitely, it's pretty amazing that anything can live there. Bacteria are pretty impressive.