According to a recent research, Antarctica’s ice might be hiding a system of mysterious caves capable of holding life forms thanks to their ‘cozy environment’.
ANU or Australian National University in Canberra scientists led by Dr. Ceridwen Fraser. They studied the area surrounding Antarctica’s Mount Erebus, an active volcano located on Ross Island.
The Mysterious Caves Might Be Home to Some Unidentified Species
The research team found a series of mysterious caves in the vicinity of Mount Erebus. According to a statement issued by the University, this extensive cave system was hollowed out by steam coming from the volcano.
These caves are also seemingly quite warm, with the temperatures in some of them even going as high as to 25 degrees Celsius. Also, the cave mouths can enjoy the exterior light, and a series of light filters was noted deeper inside some of the caves. Namely, where the overlying ice was thinner.
The study team took forensic analyses of the soil samples in these mysterious caves, which pointed to the presence of traces of DNA. Their source was traced back to some small animals, mosses, and algae. Most of the discovered DNA resembled that of animal and plant species found in other places in Antarctica. However, not all of the genetic sequences were identified.
“The results from this study give us a tantalizing glimpse of what might live beneath the ice in Antarctica – there might even be new species of animals and plants,” states the lead researcher.
Scientists consider that a closer look at these mysterious caves is very much needed. This could help determine whether some still unidentified species of plants and animals used to live there and if they are still there now.
Researchers are also still uncertain as to the exact number of such caves, and of how extensive their system might be. Nonetheless, the presence of a considerable number of volcanoes in the area indicates to the possibly substantial outspread of a cave system hidden beneath the Antarctic ice.
Current study findings on the subglacial cave system of Antarctica are available in the journal Polar Biology.
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