Scientists find new kind of bacterial life in hidden Antarctic lake.
An enormous lake that has lain buried under Antarctic ice for millions of years is home to a new kind of bacterial life, Russian scientists claim.
The researchers found evidence for the unidentified organism in water samples brought up from Lake Vostok, the largest subglacial lake on the Antarctic continent.
The Russian team found seven samples of the mystery species in water that had frozen on a drill head used to reach the lake that lies beneath an ice sheet more than two miles (3.5km) thick.
The scientists extracted strands of DNA from the organism, but said the genetic code was never more than an 86% match with any of the species listed in global databanks. Sergey Bulat, a researcher on the team at the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute, said that anything less than a 90% match usually indicated that the organism was unknown.
"We call it unidentified and 'unclassified' life," Bulat told the state news agency, RIA Novosti. "If it were found on Mars, people would call it Martian DNA. But this is DNA from Earth," he added.
The Russian team broke through to the lake under the East Antarctic Ice Sheet last year. When the ice cover was pierced, water burst up through the borehole. The huge body of water stretches for 150 miles and is 30 miles wide in places.