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Lake Vostok, located 4km below the Antarctic ice sheet

By Claire

Russian scientists have claimed to have found a new form of bacterial life in a sub-glacial lake under the Antarctic ice sheet.

Last year, a team of Russian scientists successfully drilled through 4km of ice to collect samples from Lake Vostok, located below the Antarctic ice sheet.

Analysis of these samples has revealed an “unclassified and unidentified life form.”

“After putting aside all possible elements of contamination, DNA was found that did not coincide with any of the well-known types in the global database,” said Sergei Bulat, of the genetics laboratory at the St Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics.

One particular form of bacteria exhibited DNA less than 86% similar to known life forms.

“In terms of work with DNA this is basically zero. A level of 90 per cent usually means that the organism is unknown,” said Bulat.

A secondary expedition will be undertaken in May to verify these results.

Lake Vostok is thought to have been isolated for around 15 million years, however, water from this lake is continuously frozen and moved by the Antarctic ice sheet over head, resulting in an effective residence time of only around 13,000 years.

If you’re keen to learn more about Lake Vostok, you can check out this documentary from “top documentary films.”