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Antarctica

  1. Buried Lake Vostok May Support a Thriving Ecosystem Two Miles Beneath the Surface of Antarctica

    Scientists find signs of complex life in an Antarctic lake buried under two miles of ice. There may even be fish!

    Lake Vostok, a body of water located about two miles beneath Antarctica's icy surface, may be home to a viable ecosystem in spite of intense cold, complete darkness, lack of nutrients, and possible volcanic activity. And what's more, new evidence uncovered from samples of organic material suggest that the lake's inhabitants could include complex life forms such as arthropods, mollusks, and even fish. A group of researchers at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) concluded in a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE that "although Lake Vostok is oligotrophic," or nutrient poor, "based on the metagenomic and metatranscriptomic results presented here, it is far from sterile."

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  2. Scientists Say Martian Clay Holds Chemicals That Could Be Key to Early Life

    High levels of boron in a Martian meteorite found in Antarctica could mean that life was once possible on Mars.

    High concentrations of boron have been found in an antarctic meteorite of Martian origin by a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute. That's actually a lot more exciting than it sounds since boron was a pretty key ingredient to early life. Though they didn't show evidence of life itself, the findings could further indicate that life may have once been possible on Mars.

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  3. NASA Releases New Topographical Maps of Antarctica, Apparently There’s Land Under All That Ice

    And here I always thought the ice was just... frozen to the... okay I lied, I haven't ever thought about it.

    We were all of the mind that humanity had basically done all the mapmaking it was going to do back when the King of Portugal was still footing the bill, but apparently cartography is alive and well as a field of study! Won't Buster Bluth be pleased? Well, probably not, because he'd probably hard a hard time keeping up with the scientists at the British Antarctic Survey, who have expanded upon and improved their datasets of the topographical map of Antarctica to create a brand new set of images that they've been calling Bedmap2. If the blue part is the land, what will he think of the white part?

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  4. Russian Scientists Claim New Kind of Bacterial Life Found in Lake Vostok

    Russian researchers working on samples from Lake Vostok -- a subglacial lake in Antarctica sealed away for eons by more than two miles of ice -- say they have found signs of a wholly new kind of bacterial life in water samples taken from the lake. It's a pretty impressive claim, if true, and one could quiet concerns raised late last year the lake may have been entirely devoid of life -- not to mention meaning new chapters in microbiology textbooks. Now we just have to wait and see if this bold announcement holds water.

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  5. Cold as Ice and Then Some: Penguins Are Colder Than the Air Around Them

    A team of European penguin researchers found some unexpected results when they turned infrared heat sensing cameras on a group of emperor penguins they were studying. The outer layer of the birds feathers, they found, was actually colder than the surrounding air. While it goes against common sense, keeping their outermost layers ice-cold may actually help penguins stay warm deeper inside -- where it counts.

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  6. Penguin Cam Shows Life From A Penguin’s Point of View (Spoiler: There Are Lots of Fish) [Video]

    People become scientists for a lot of reasons. Because they enjoy solving the mysteries of the universe, or want to make the world a better place to live, or just because it's a career that helps them finish the death ray they're working on in their basement. These are all noble reasons for wanting to do science -- especially the death ray thing -- but none of them is the best reason. The best reason to become a scientist, clearly, is so you can strap small cameras to Adelie penguins and make videos about their lives under the sea like the one you can watch below.

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  7. First Clean Water Sample Retrieved From Antarctic Lake Sealed by Ice for Eons

    After years of failure, a team of Russian researchers and engineers working in Antarctica have succeeded in taking a clean sample of water from Lake Vostok, a liquid water lake sealed beneath two miles of ice sheets at the bottom of the world. Scientists hope that this first untainted sample of the water -- which has been largely untouched by the outside world since prehistory -- will provide them with new insights into some of Earth's earliest lifeforms.

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  8. Aussie Explorer To Recreate Shackleton Expedition With Outdated Equipment, Probably More Avoidable, Tragic Deaths

    Here's a new one for our ever growing file of stories labelled "idiots doing idiot things because they're idiots" -- an Australian professional adventurer is hoping to recreate the last leg of polar explorer and mind-blowing badass Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated expedition to cross Antarctica by land. That's not the crossing of Antarctica that the expedition was meant to be, but the grueling fight for survival against all odds it turned into. After all, we assume the way you get to be an Australian professional adventurer is by accepting dumb bets in bars and then endangering people's lives needlessly carrying them out.

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  9. Lake Vostok Devoid Of Microbes, Bad News For Prospect Of Life Elsewhere In Solar System

    Earlier this year, a team of Russian-led engineers and researchers drilled a hole into the Earth, breaking into Lake Vostok, a liquid water lake sealed beneath the ice of Antarctica for nearly 15 million years. They were looking for signs of life in the lake -- microbes that might offer clues to what sort of creatures we could expect to run into on icy moons elsewhere in the solar system, like Saturn's satellite Europa. This week, the first analyses of water samples from the lake are in, and they're pretty disheartening. Lake Vostok appears to be devoid of microbial life.

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  10. Glen, Then Glenda: Mollusk is Born Male, Transitions to Female With Age

    Lissarca miliaris is not exactly a glamorous or remarkable creature. The small, dull, clam-like creatures are filter feeders living a typically less than exciting life beneath the cold waves and icy sheets of Antarctica. The tiny mollusk is getting some time in the spotlight, though, as it was just revealed to have one of the stranger life cycles known to science. All specimens of Lissarca miliaris are born males. As they age and grow, though, they develop female sexual organs, transitioning to a fully female form capable of bearing young by the end of their lifespan.

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