Lake Vostok, the Antarctic lake buried under two miles of ice has been discovered to be teeming with life. Scientists were able to verify 3,500 distinct organisms from DNA samples. Many of the organisms appear to be similar to ones normally found near underwater thermal vents.
This is actually slightly surprising. It was thought that Lake Vostok has been sealed away from the world for millions of years. Scientists thought to find a completely sterile environment or a relatively alien environment. And while organisms that hang around thermal vents are certainly alien to our everyday life, they’re certainly not alien to biologists.
That isn’t to say that they won’t find alien life in Lake Vostok. They’ve only reported on what they’ve already been able to verify and not what they haven’t yet. It does likely mean that Lake Vostok is not as cut off from the outside world as was once thought. Either way, you can expect some pretty cool science to be coming from the Lake Vostok finds for years to come.
Oh, and what’s with Russia’s science station at Lake Vostok? It looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic nightmare. A band of survivors hunting for scraps and making shelter of whatever is available to them. Given the location, either Russia didn’t have a lot of money to build the station or they have a wicked sense of humor. Given the amount of vodka they consume, it could go either way.