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Discovery of warm ice caves under Antarctica could support mysterious life

By Herald Keeper
By Olivia Tucker

Antarctica might be a hub of extensive cave systems which might be bursting with life support system for various plants and animal species to thrive in the areas warmed by volcanic activities in this icy-cold continent.

The latest study published in the journal Polar Biology by a group of renowned scientists explains this latest discovery as a gateway to new possibilities of life. The active sub surface volcanoes have vented steam that has resulted in the formation of these extensive, interconnected caves which have the potential to house a wide range of organisms, some even visible to naked eyes and not just micro-organisms. These geothermal areas have been warmed up by Earthís internal heat which has created optimum conditions suited to a wide array of species.

The temperature inside these caves is often ten degrees higher than the cold temperature outside. These caves even have the potential for the possibility of liquid water and are supported by light at the mouth of the cave and even through the walls of the caves where the ice is thin. From the DNA found inside these caves, scientists confirm that the caves once housed invertebrates and plants and the same might even be present today if the study of these caves goes deeper.The most surprising element of this study is the presence of DNA structures unknown to scientists which do not resemble any kind of animals or plant species present up top this continent. Larger animals or plant forms havenít been yet found inside these caves but according to the study, just because they havenít been found yet doesnít mean they do not exist and itís just a matter of time before they are found as these caves are spread far and wide and Antarctica houses a lot of volcanoes which could each carry their own chain of caves down below.

The samples of DNA from plants and animals collected by the scientists were from the caves at Mount Erebus which is one of the biggest volcanoes on Antarctica and it is speculated that the same can be found at other locations of the continent as well. An extensive search to probe deeper inside the caves could give more insight into the possibility of the creatures still living inside the caves now.
The extent of these caves is yet unknown to the scientists and they have reason to believe they could even be interconnected. According to Charles Lee, from the University of Waikato, said the caves are really difficult to identify, get to and explore.

The post Discovery of warm ice caves under Antarctica could support mysterious life by Olivia Tucker appeared first on Herald Keeper.

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