A community of bacteria that survives in a dark, salty and sub-freezing environment has been discovered beneath nearly 20 meters of ice in one of Antarctica’s most isolated lakes.

Lake Vida, the largest of several unique lakes found in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, contains no oxygen, is mostly frozen and possesses the highest nitrous oxide levels of any natural water body on Earth. A briny liquid that is approximately six times saltier than seawater percolates throughout the icy environment that has an average temperature of minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit.

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