Scientists who explored a buried Antarctic lake "twice the size of Manhattan" drilled through 3,500 feet of ice to learn more about the mysterious body of water – and made a fantastic discovery along the way.
After days of breaking through thick lumps of ice to reach Mercer Subglacial Lake on December 26, scientists sent an instrument down a borehole to capture rare footage of the lake. They also used other instruments to test the water and eventually found signs of the old life: the perfectly preserved skeletal remains of small animals trapped under about half a mile of ice, the Nature record was the first to report.
"This is really cool," said Slawek Tulaczyk, a glaciologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for the journal. "It's certainly surprising."
SCIENTISTER INVESTIGATING ANTARCTIC LAKE "TRAIN THE SIZE OF MANHATTAN" BURIED UNDER 3,500 FEED OF SNOW
Tulaczyk is not part of Scientific Access (SALSA) in Subglacial Antarctic Lakes team that traveled to the area to testing in late December, but he has two decades of experience studying sediments during glaciers. He told Nature that he had never seen animal carcasses quite like these ̵
David Harwood, a SALSA crew member and micropaleontologist, said the finding was "totally unexpected."
Mercer Subglacial Lake was first discovered by satellite more than a decade ago, according to Nature. It is one of about 400 lakes hiding under the Antarctic ice sheet and there is little known about it. It's only the second time scientists have studied the old lake.
In total, the SALSA team has picked up six perfect sediment cores – two more than they originally planned, the group revealed in a blog post Thursday.
STRONG CARVED STONE FUNDET & # 39; BURIED & # 39; UNDER NEW JERSEY RIVER PUZZLES LOCALS The team sealed the borehole and left handrail on January 5, but their work is far from over. The researchers say it will take many years to analyze and test all the samples they have collected.
According to Nature, they will take DNA samples from the crustacean's carcasses to determine whether they were marine or freshwater species that could give them an even better insight into the history of Antarctica glaciers.