Posted: 10 Mar 2013 10:47 AM PDT
It looks like drilling through 2.3 miles of ice may have paid off: The Russian scientists who did just that last year at Antarctica’s Lake Vostok say the samples they recovered contain an “unclassified and unidentified” life form, reports the BBC.The bacteria’s DNA measured less than 86% similar to that of previously existing life forms—which the team’s leader explains is “basically zero” when it comes to DNA. “A level of 90% usually means that the organism is unknown.”
“If this had been found on Mars everyone would have undoubtedly said there is life on Mars,” continued the scientist, who says fresh samples will be retrieved from the subglacial lake in May. “But this is bacteria from Earth.” Lake Vostok is so oxygen-rich—about 50 times more so than freshwater lakes—that any microbes living in it must have evolved special adaptations to survive there, notes the Daily Galaxy.