Antarctica Yields More Secrets, 1 Million Year Old DNA, Another “Fountain of Life”

As we noted recently the frigid depths of the world’s oceans are by no means devoid of life. In fact quite the opposite.

Today the focus is once again Antarctica, where scientists have recently found DNA samples hundreds of thousands of years older than any found before. They have also discovered a new and astonishing trove of previously unknown life.

cold glacier iceberg melting
Antarctica is one of the world’s least habitable places. But a surprising number of species thrive in the cold, above and below the waterline. Photo by Pixabay on

The website Live Science is reporting on both the finds. The first has major implications for the study of evolution and the second is a testament to Nature’s ability to generate leife in the harshest conditions.

According to Live Science

“Scientists accidentally collected the unusual genetic samples, known as sedimentary ancient DNA or sedaDNA, up to 584 feet (178 meters) beneath the seafloor as part of a 2019 survey led by the International Ocean Discovery Program in the Scotia Sea north of mainland Antarctica. In the new study, which was published online Oct. 2 in the journal Nature Communications), researchers analyzed the sedaDNA samples for the first time. 

The team looked closely at damage patterns within the recovered DNA fragments to establish exactly how old they were. The oldest fragments clocked in at around 1 million years old. Until now, the oldest sedaDNA, which was found locked inside Arctic permafrost, dated to around 650,000 years ago, Science Alert reported.”

The new find allows scientists to study the evolution of DNA and track its evolution over time.

Ice fish are translucent and lack hemoglobin. A recent discovery found a 92 square mile hatching area off Antarctica. Photo

Meanwhile, scientists have found another fountain of life beneath the Antarctic Ocean ice

This discovery is turning scientific heads because it shows how totally adapted life is to the 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 and lead author, Huw Griffiths of the British Antarctic Survey, in a news release. 

“Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there? 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?”

Although Greenland sharks are well adapted to frigid water they have recently been spotted in the tropics off Belize

Recently, the ocean depths have been releasing a number of secrets. Recently we reported on a trove of life found near the Titanic. Previously we discussed the discovery of deep sea sharks in odd places. Of course there is also the amazing ice fish.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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