A team of British Antarctic Exploration explorers, led by geologist James Smith, accidentally found some strange creatures on a rock located below a floating platform with more than 800 meters of ice.
The discovery was made by chance, as the team was looking for sediments from the seabed to be able to study the history of that platform. To reach the rock, 20 tons of melted snow were used, which created 20.000 liters of hot water, in a process that took 20 hours, as the ice was melted inch by inch.
The creatures present in the rock are relatively simple, but it is surprising that they are there, since the stone is more than 257 km from the nearest sunlight, which is the edge of the platform, where the ice ends and the open ocean begins. In addition to being a place where food sources do not reach easily.
What creatures are these and what do they eat?
Because they are in a very deep and difficult to access place, the researchers have not yet been able to collect specimens of these creatures. Because of this, they still cannot say with certainty what they are or what they eat. Only that they are attached to the rock and are not mobile creatures.
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Biologist Huw Griffiths, who is also part of British Antarctic Research, speculates that they are sponges that feed on “sea snow“, Which are residual particles from animal corpses that descend to great depths.
“Are they all eating the same source of food? Or are some of them getting nutrients from each other? Or are there more mobile animals out there providing food for this community? ”Asks Griffiths. However, these and other questions can only be answered if a new expedition is made to the location.
However, we may be running out of time for this, as ice platforms like the one above the rock are becoming rare due to climate change. "There is a potential that some of these large ice shelves in the future may collapse and we could lose a unique ecosystem," laments Griffiths.
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