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Mystery Lifeforms Have Been Found in The Hostile Darkness Beneath Antarctica

Science Alert- The waters below Antarctica are amongst the most inhospitable environments on our planet - or so we thought.

It's pitch dark, and temperatures are subzero; yet, when scientists drilled through an Antarctic ice shelf far from light or warmth, they found a seafloor boulder that's home to several species we may have never seen before.

A few of the organisms have been seen in similar locations, but this discovery marks the first time stationary creatures that live their lives attached to one place, such as sponges, have been found in this hostile environment.

"This discovery is one of those fortunate accidents that pushes ideas in a different direction and shows us that Antarctic marine life is incredibly special and amazingly adapted to a frozen world," said biogeographer Huw Griffiths of the British Antarctic Survey.

Because of how unwelcoming the environment below them is, and how hard it is to get to, we've explored very little of it. Generally, scientists bore holes in the ice and lower equipment down to take a gander at what's down there.

Because of how unwelcoming the environment below them is, and how hard it is to get to, we've explored very little of it. Generally, scientists bore holes in the ice and lower equipment down to take a gander at what's down there.

But below the Filchner Ice Shelf - 260 kilometres (160 miles) from the ice shelf front, under 890 metres of ice, at a seafloor depth of 1,233 metres - that's exactly what Griffiths and his colleagues found. Attached to the rock, they found one sponge on a stalk, 15 more sponges without stalks, and 22 unidentified stalked organisms that could be sponges, ascidians, hydroids, barnacles, cnidaria, or polychaetes.

This is how it starts. 

First, scientists are telling the world they've found microorganisms previously believed to have never been able to survive in waters so cold or so dark. 

Next thing we know, all the wild shit we've seen on ancient aliens is going to be getting excavated and dug up like the opening scene of Jurassic Park.

For those of you that have zero clue what I'm talking about, Antarctica has been the subject of some of the wildest conspiracy theories out there.

We're talking Atlantis. Many people believe Atlantis lies underneath the frozen tundra of Antartica and that is why nobody in our time has ever been able to find it.

We're talking pyramids. Yes pyramids! 

Lots of people think there are also pyramids under all that ice and snow.

We're talking Nazi strongholds and military bases. 

We're talking the Piri Reis Map being confirmed! 

What the fuck is the Piri Reis Map?

Glad you asked.

The Piri Reis map is a world map compiled in 1513 by the Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis. 

Wiki- Approximately one third of the map survived; it shows the western coasts of Europe and North Africa and the coast of Brazil with reasonable accuracy. Various Atlantic islands, including the Azores and Canary Islands, are depicted, as is the mythical island of Antillia and possibly Japan.

The map's historical importance lies in its demonstration of the extent of exploration of the New World by approximately 1510, and in its claim to have used a map of Christopher Columbus, otherwise lost, as a source. Piri also stated that he had used ten Arab sources and four Indian maps sourced from the Portuguese. More recently, the map has been the focus of claims for the pre-modern exploration of the Antarctic coast.

The Piri Reis map is in the Library of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, but is not on display to the public.

So if you take a look at what this map allegedly shows, which only a handful of scholars can confirm because THE MAP IS NOT FOR PUBLIC DISPLAY at the museum it's at (red flag anybody?), it supposedly shows that Antartica was even larger than what we already think. There is an entire "shelf" that now lies underwater that used to be exposed and was actually lush green rain forest way back when. (Atlantis anybody?)

The great ice age changed landmass not just of North and Central America and the hundreds of islands dotting the coasts, but also the poles.

Crazy shit.

Others believe this Piri Reis guy is totally made up and the map actually comes from aliens who inhabited our planet way before we showed up. 

The reason for this school of thought is because of the complex use of advanced trigonometry on the map. Whoever drew it either had advanced use of something we rely on technology for today, or they had the advantage of looking down from space to draw it.

We're also talking UFO's (obviously).

Lots of people believe there are UFO's buried underneath the ice. Some that were either purposely placed there by other lifeforms, or that have crashed and been kept there.

There's also a large group that believes Hitler and the Nazi's stored UFO aircraft at a base they had there and that it was appropriated by US Forces after the war.

Which leads us to the next big question.

What the fuck is up with "Area 122"? Why is there a part of land on an "uninhabited" continent that nobody is allowed to see or visit? Riddle me that naysayers and doubters.

Laugh it up all you want about these theories being insane. 

But this discovery is honestly big time news.

"Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there?" Griffiths said.

"What are they eating? How long have they been there? How common are these boulders covered in life? Are these the same species as we see outside the ice shelf or are they new species? And what would happen to these communities if the ice shelf collapsed?"

Most life on Earth relies on the Sun for survival. Photosynthesis is at the very bottom of the food chain, with organisms such as plants and algae using sunlight to make sugars, and other organisms eating either plants or the organisms that eat plants (or the organisms that eat the organisms that eat plants, and so on).

But in the dark depths where no sunlight ever reaches, living things use a different strategy. Around ocean thermal vents that blast out heat and volcanic chemicals, bacteria rely on chemosynthesis to make sugars, forming the basis of a similar food chain. A chemosynthetic ecosystem has also been discovered in a cave in Romania.

Recent research has found that organisms living under glaciers chemosynthesise hydrogen. Chemosynthetic ecosystems that rely on methane have been found in the ocean, too; a methane leak has even been found in Antarctic waters.

The boulder investigated by Griffiths and his team is estimated to be between 625 and 1,500 kilometres from the nearest region of photosynthesis. So it seems likely that the things living there rely on some form of chemosynthetic food chain, even if the sponges are the carnivorous kind (which is yet to be determined).

This completely flips the entire script of what was previously believed on its head. 

"How did these organisms get there and how long have they been there?" is a huge mystery. 

If the south pole has supposedly always been like the ice planet of Hoth, and was never actually a lush environment capable of sustaining life of all sorts, then why are their bacteria and microorganisms under and within the ice that has found ways to adapt to living in the extreme cold and dark?

Looking forward to watching this play out and would love Chief and Eddie to dive into this again because it's wicked fascinating.