Experts in Antarctica are perplexed by a “dead zone” where even bacteria don’t exist: ‘It’s not possible.’
A RESEARCH EXPEdition to Antarctica was astounded to discover an area of the frigid continent that may be the world’s most lifeless place.
When scooping up handfuls of dirt everywhere on the earth, millions of bacteria, nematodes, and insects can be found. The world is teaming with life, from the arid plateau of Chile’s Atacama Desert to the acidic geothermal spas of Yellowstone volcano. According to a strange new study, this does not appear to be the case in the heart of Antarctica’s Transantarctic Mountains.
Researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) and the University of Colorado visited this remote mountain region to investigate how life has evolved in the soil over thousands of years.
They found virtually nothing, much to their astonishment.
“A gram of soil has like a billion cells living in it, but we couldnâ€TMt detect a single cell in this dirt,” said Byron Adams, a BYU scientist who headed the expedition.
“Until recently, no one has ever seen soil without bacteria.
“We discovered an environment beyond of life’s bounds, and we discovered it here on Earth.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences by the researchers.
A investigation of 204 ice-free soil samples gathered around the Shackleton Glacier region, some 300 miles from the South Pole, led to their conclusions.
The majority of the soil sampled contained a broad mix of microorganisms.
However, approximately 20% of the samples were determined to be absolutely devoid of life.
The dead samples were taken in some of the region’s highest and driest locations.
Surprisingly, the soil did not contain any microorganisms, and the scientists were unable to find any traces of microbial DNA.
The researchers initially thought they’d made a mistake due of the mystery.
However, even one year after the original examination, successive attempts to detect any indication of life had failed.
“We identified a spot on Earth that has had millions and millions of years to evolve and support life, but it hasn’t,” Professor Byron added.
“If there is anything there, it isn’t working; the cells aren’t alive, dividing, or performing any metabolic functions.”
The soil samples were taken during a January 2018 excursion to the Antarctic, when temperatures dropped to a bone-chilling -17°C.
The “Brinkwire Summary News” was broadcast during the trip.