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Antarctica: Hidden Lake Vostok teeming with life, study says

Antarctica's Lake Vostok is buried under 2 miles of ice, but researchers recently found it contains a "surprising" variety of life.

Hidden lake Antarctica 2013 07-07Enlarge
Researchers say a lake buried under 2 miles of ice in Antarctica is teeming with life. (Handout/Getty Images)

Buried under 2 miles of ice, a giant hidden lake in Antarctica is teeming with life.

Using ice samples from the frozen continent, researchers say they found DNA from more than 3,500 organisms that include everything from fungi to bacteria.

More from GlobalPost: Signs of life below Antarctica's ice, Russian scientists say 

The findings, published in the journal PLOS One, raises hopes that life can be found in the ice-covered seas of Europa and Enceladus.

"We found much more complexity than anyone thought," study author Scott Rogers of Bowling Green State University told The Telegraph. "It really shows the tenacity of life, and how organisms can survive in places where a couple dozen years ago we thought nothing could survive.

"The bounds on what is habitable and what is not are changing."

More from GlobalPost: Rare whale skeleton discovered on Antarctica ocean floor

What's particularly interesting is that some of the bacteria from the samples are typically found in crustaceans and fish guts, meaning the creatures they came from may be still swimming in the lake.

Isolated from the world for 15 million years, Lake Vostok sits about 800 miles from the South Pole and measures 160 miles long and 30 miles wide.

It's thought to have been open to the air and surrounded by a forest about 35 million years ago.

Earlier this year, Russian scientists claimed to have found a novel type of bacteria in Lake Vostok water samples, but those findings were later attributed instead to contamination.

US researchers took similar samples from the subglacial Lake Whillans in Anarctica last year, also stating they had found new bacterial life.

That lake is considered less isolated than Lake Vostok, reported the BBC.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/130707/antarctica-hidden-lake-vostok-teeming-life