Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Scientists locate shrimp under ice sheet

A recent NASA discovery has given hope to those of us hoping that a prehistoric lake monster will be found in Lake Vostok someday. When they put a camera 600 feet under the ice, where there's no sunshine and thus small chance of complex life, NASA scientists found a live shrimp and a possible jellyfish tentacle. The specimen is actually an amphipod, but looks like a shrimp and that's what news stories are calling it. It was three inches long. If you're wondering why this is so impressive, given that there are plenty of animals living in dark caves, consider that the site where the researchers drilled is 12 miles from the ocean, and the hole that was drilled was only 8 inches across. So the fact that anything was found is pretty impressive - and unlikely. Also unlikely is the possibility that the shrimp drifted in from somewhere else, since 12 miles is a bit far, especially considering that there probably isn't a whole lot of food under the ice (no plant life to serve as the base of a food chain). But who knows? Maybe scientists will find a food source that draws the amphipods and jellyfish.

In any case, further studies will no doubt be done to figure out more about these animals and any other organisms living under the ice. Though scientists were surprised by these findings, which seem to contradict a lot of assumptions about the conditions needed for life, they may be in for some even more shocking revelations.

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