UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — Antarctica is the coldest, driest, windiest and most inhospitable continent on Earth but somehow, life exists there.
New evidence suggests it also exists below the ice.
A new study published in the journal Polar Biology describes a vast network of caves beneath Antarctica’s ice sheet so warm, a person could comfortably wear only a T-shirt.
The ice is hollowed out by steam produced by an active volcano. In some parts, the ice is thin enough to allow sunlight to filter through.
The mild temperatures, combined with sunlight, make the caves hospitable to life.
According to this new study, researchers found traces of DNA from algae, moss and even small invertebrate animals.
While some of the DNA matches creatures found elsewhere on the continent, some of the samples have not yet been identified.
This means unknown types of plants or animals might have once called the caves home — and they still might.