Hidden underneath the surface of the world’s coldest, windiest continent lie caves in which one could easily wear a T-shirt in
Great things can be discovered around the world and wearing a T-shirt and being comfortable in it in the coldest continent of the Earth is one of them. More than that, a team of scientists has revealed something more: evidence that animals and plants might exist in these extensive cave systems.
Analyses of soil samples from the caves have turned up rather intriguing traces of DNA from mosses, algae, and small animals, something that no one would have ever expected.
“It can be really warm inside the caves – up to 25C in some caves,” said Dr Ceridwen Fraser, of the Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment and Society.
Also, there was light near the cave mouths, and light filters deeper into some caves where the overlying ice was thin. Most of the DNA that was found in the caves on Mt. Erebus was similar to the DNA from plants and animals (including mosses, algae, and invertebrates) found in different places of Antarctica. However, not all sequences could be fully identified.
“The results from this study give us a tantalising glimpse of what might live beneath the ice in Antarctica – there might even be new species of animals and plants,” Fraser said.
On the other hand, another scientists who was involved in the project said that these DNA traces did not prove that plants and animals were actually still living in the caves.
“The next steps will be to take a closer look at the caves and search for living organisms. If they exist, it opens the door to an exciting new world,” Connell said.