The frozen world of Antarctica home to several species we may have never seen before. When scientists drilled a 900-meter hole into an Antarctic ice shelf they weren’t looking for marine life at all. The hole was made to gather sediment samples from the ocean floor.
Then a camera was lowered expecting o hit mud, but hot a rock. On it they found one sponge on a stalk, 15 more sponges without stalks, and 22 unidentified stalked organisms that could be sponges, ascidians, hydroids, barnacles, cnidaria, or polychaetes. This was unexpected as it was far from regions where photosynthesis is possible.
Other animals have been discovered beneath Antarctic ice shelves in the past, but those included mobile animals such as fish and arthropods, a group of invertebrates that includes crustaceans. Besides the occasional jellyfish, which can get swept beneath the ice by ocean currents, the only animals seen in the frigid, pitch-black water were those that actively moved around to gather food.
But stationary filter-feeding animals, like sponges and corals, remain fixed in one spot and sustain themselves on food that happens to float by.
Scientists are assuming that things living there rely on some form of chemosynthetic food chain, even if the sponges are the carnivorous kind (which is yet to be determined).
The only way to find that out is by doing a much more detailed study of the organisms and their environment.
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