Tiny Creatures Suggest Ancient Antarctic Seaway

Which means ice sheet isn't as stable as thought
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2010 7:28 PM CDT
In this photo released by the Australian Antarctic Division, brightly colored coralline bryozoans and sponges are seen in Antarcic waters.   (AP Photo/Australian Antarctic Division, Martin Riddle)
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(Newser) – Antarctica was split into several pieces by the collapse of a major ice formation as recently as 125,000 years ago, new evidence suggests. Scientists have found similar Bryozoans—tiny marine animals that are immobile as adults—in the Ross and Weddell seas, which are separated by 1,500 miles of ice known as the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet, the BBC reports.

The Bryozoans found in the two seas could likely only have been spread so far apart by currents of water flowing through what is now solid ice. One of the scientists said the finding could have dangerous implications for a warming planet: It's "a big deal," he said. "It makes the WAIS the least stable of the three ice masses and so that would mean that we could expect more sea level rise than we might have bargained for."

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