Lost World Discovered Under Antarctica

By Jamie Condliffe on at

This discovery is amazing, amd straight out of a Jules Verne's novel: scientists from the University of Oxford, University of Southampton, the National Oceanography Centre, and the British Antarctic Survey have discovered a "lost world" under Antarctica, in the East Scotia Ridge.

Researchers used a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to explore the depths of the East Scotia Ridge, which is full of hydrothermal vents which can reach up to 719 degrees Fahrenheit (382 degrees Celsius). They discovered an amazing new world packed with unknown species. According to project leader Professor Alex Rogers of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, these alien-looking white creatures are thriving in the rich chemicals ejected by the vents:

"Hydrothermal vents are home to animals found nowhere else on the planet that get their energy not from the Sun but from breaking down chemicals, such as hydrogen sulphide. The first survey of these particular vents, in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, has revealed a hot, dark, ‘lost world' in which whole communities of previously unknown marine organisms thrive."

The researchers—who just published their discoveries on the biology section of the Public Library of Science, a non-profit organisation of scientists—were amazed to find so many never-before-seen species in such large numbers. Entire colonies of unknown yeti crabs; anemones; predatory sea stars with seven arms, and pale octopus were found, piling on top of the vents, and creeping on top of each other at nearly 7,874 feet (2,400 metres) under the surface of the Southern Ocean.

They are also surprised that they didn't find any of the tubeworms and mussels typically detected in hydrothermal vents all over the world. It's a new complex ecosystem, which has led them to believe that the variety of organisms around vents all over the world must be more than what we previously thought. [PLoS Biology and University of Oxford]