Russian scientists recant new life form discovery in Lake Vostok
No new life forms discovered, just contaminants
formerly exciting declaration of a hitherto unknown life form on the
planet Earth has since been recanted. Russian scientists originally said
that "unidentified and unclassified life" had been found in the icy
depths of Lake Vostok. Eukaryote Genetics Laboratory head Vladimir
Korolyov has now said that they actually did not find any new signs of
life - only contaminants.
In fact, researchers believe that the drilling liquid from the tools to reach down into Lake Vostok could have contributed to a false reading. "That is why we can't say that a previously-unknown bacteria was found," he said.
This will not deter researchers from seeking new ways to get samples from Lake Vostok. Korolyov told Interfax that "deepwater devices" designed at the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute would be brought in next year to test the water.
The race to find out what is under these sub-glacial lakes may have rushed them to quick judgment. It's an international thing, as the United States took a sample from the shallower Lake Whillans earlier this year and is attempting to prove the same thing, while Great Brittan's attempt to drill at Lake Ellsworth was called off due to technical problems with drilling.
Nations want to get to these lakes to study microorganisms that have not been tampered with for thousands of years. As the Russians found out, contamination is a major obstacle to the study. The financial windfall, in grants and private funding, that will come to whatever group cracks the DNA of the new organisms first is more than enough to rekindle some cold, cold war-style competition.
Lake Vostok is located near the South Pole, and is the largest of the regions 400 sub-glacial lakes.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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