Tests Hint at Fish Miles Below Antarctic Ice

Scientists study RNA at Lake Vostok
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2013 10:02 AM CDT
Tests Hint at Fish Miles Below Antarctic Ice
Tests indicate there may be fish under ice in Antarctica.   (Shutterstock)

A lake nearly 2.5 miles below Antarctica's ice sheet could harbor some surprising organisms—including, perhaps, fish, scientists find. Lake Vostok, some 5,800 square miles in area, is thought to have been closed off from the atmosphere for millions of years, the BBC notes. But rivers below the continent could have provided pathways to the lake from the ocean.

Researchers studied RNA strands in ice from the lake that rose and froze onto Antarctica's ice sheet. Some 94% of the genetic material was linked to bacteria; another 6% was tied to multicellular organisms. The bacteria traces suggested pathogens and other organisms "associated with annelids, sea anemones, brachiopods, tardigrades, and fish," the scientists wrote. But they're not leaping to conclusions, noting that earlier contamination could have caused the findings. (Read more Antarctica stories.)

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