No New Life Form Discovered In Antarctic Lake Vostok , Says Russian Scientist

By Staff Reporter on March 10, 2013 6:20 AM EDT

Antarctic ice
Russian scientists have dismissed reports that they have discovered new type of microbe in Antarctic lake Vostok. (Photo: NASA)

Just days after claiming to have discovered a new type of microbe in Antarctica's Lake Vostok, Russian scientists have denied the reports, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency. 

Sergei Bulat, of genetics laboratory at the Saint Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics, said Thursday, Mar. 7 that the samples obtained from Antarctic Lake Vostok contained a new type of microbe that did not have any resemblance to other existing type of bacteria.

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But, the head of the genetics laboratory dismissed these initial reports Saturday, stating that the new type of microbe was nothing but contaminants. "We found certain specimen, although not many. All of them were contaminants," Vladimir Korolyov told the Interfax news agency. "That is why we cannot say that previously-unknown life was found," he said.

Lake Vostok is the largest of Antarctica's known sub-glacial lakes, which is buried more than two miles below ice. It is believed to be isolated for more than 17 million years.

Last year, Russian scientists drilled almost 2.34 miles to reach the lake and successfully retrieved samples of water from there. They have been hoping to find new forms of life that could provide clues about the lake's surrounding environment.

Scientists from other nations including the United States have been taking similar efforts to find microbial life in the sub-glacial lakes. Recently, a U.S.-based team successfully took samples from sub-glacial Lake Whillans, which is buried below over 2,000 feet (800m) of Antarctic ice.

However, a British team has not been as fortunate as the Russian and the American team. British researchers, who were involved in the project of drilling Lake Ellsworth in Antarctica, called off the mission on Christmas Day last year following technical difficulties.

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