UK Researchers Scratch the Surface
Scientists from the UK have discovered life under Antarctica’s Lake Hodgson throwing the local community of Ice-Mermen into a tizzy.
A team of researchers led by David Pearce of the British Antarctic Survey has uncovered a wealth of bacteria living in the sediment at the bottom of the sub-glacial lake. To access these depths, the scientists bored through the ice sheet using clear core drilling to avoid contamination of the environment. After analyzing the samples recovered, the team reported finding “a vast amount of novel biodiversity” in a paper published by Diversity.
According to Danus Flek, Governor of the Lake Hodgson Mermen, the locals were careful to avoid the land dwellers out of concern for their way of life. But there was no way they could clear the sediment of the bacteria that lives there. He explained that “Even if we were technically able to cleanse a section of mud of the micro-organisms, anyone who got close to the affected area would be risking their lives.”
Governor Flek noted that the bacteria unearthed by the researchers have been plaguing the community since colonization. Infectious diseases caused by the bacteria include Fin End Rot (FER), lyponecropsy, and the dreaded MerRabies.
Some of the Mermen, including the Governor’s wife Drenis, see the scientists arrival as an opportunity. Drenis hopes that the scientists might be able to find cures for some of the diseases. She is less concerned about harm to the community because she sees Pearce and his group as civilized people who would find no resources within the Merworld that would be worthwhile for them to exploit.
For now though, the Mermen have agreed among themselves to keep a low profile, and to continue observing the researchers as they work at the lake.
On the researchers part, they acknowledge that they are still in the early stages of their exploration and look forward to learning more about the world under the ice. For, as they state in their paper: “clearly these are diverse ecosystems with enormous potential.”
- Life Found in Mud Beneath Ice-Covered Antarctic Lake (livescience.com)
- Scientists Find Life Buried Under An Antarctic Lake (forbes.com)
- Subglacial Lake Sediments Home to Diverse Ancient Life (escapistmagazine.com)
- Previously unknown bacteria discovered at bottom of Antarctic lake (wired.co.uk)
- New life forms found under sub-glacial Antarctic lake (rt.com)