An “unclassified and unidentified” sample of bacteria has been retrieved from Lake Vostok. Researchers began drilling through 4kms of thick ice last year to gather information on the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica. Sergei Bulat, of the genetics laboratory at the St Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics said the DNA found in some bacteria are unknown.
He told the BBC:
After putting aside all possible elements of contamination, DNA was found that did not coincide with any of the well-known types in the global database. We are calling this life form unclassified and unidentified.
Dr Bulat added that one particular form of bacteria has DNA traces 86% different to any other previously known living form. An organism is branded unknown when its DNA is 90% different.
Lake Vostok is 15,000 square km wide and its similar in size to Lake Ontario.