Evidence of New Species in Antarctica


Photo Courtesy of arstechnica.net

While it is estimated less than 30% of Earth has been explored, scientists are still searching for new species. There may even be a new species right below our feet, who knows? However, in the cold continent of Antarctica, scientists may have found evidence of a new species in ice caves.

Researchers from Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra have been studying an extensive system of ice caves in Antarctica say they’ve retrieved DNA from soil samples that can’t be fully identified, according to MNN. They say that the ice caves themselves are surprisingly comfortable and ideal for hosting life, according to mnn.

Although one may think ice caves in Antarctica would be freezing, they are actually surprisingly warm. “It can be really warm inside of the caves, up to 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) in some caves,” added Dr Ceridwen Fraser from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, “You could wear a T-shirt in there and be pretty comfortable,” he also added.

The study, published in the journal Polar Biology, found DNA in the soil from four different volcanic sites, such as Mount Erebus, relating to plants like moss and algae and animals like nematodes, oligochaetes, and arthropods, according to Newsweek. They found DNA that could not be accurately matched to any other recorded species. “The results from the 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,“ stated Fraser.

Researchers from Australian National University are still investigating to further prove their hypothesis that ice caves in Antarctica may hold evidence of a new species. This new species could be a possibility of different organisms such as a plant or an animal. “We don’t know yet just how many cave systems exist around Antarctica’s volcanoes, or how interconnected these subglacial environments be, “ Dr. Charles Lee said. “They’re really difficult to identify, get to, and explore.”