"What would actually be surprising would be if we looked in these places and they were completely sterile," Pearce told LiveScience.
But the diversity of the life forms in Lake Hodgson was still surprising.
Nearly a quarter of the genetic sequences identified in the study did not match with any known sequence, the researchers reported, suggesting a diversity of never-before-seen life forms may lurk beneath Antarctic lakes.
Further investigation is needed, but the researchers say many of the species in this isolated ecosystem are likely to be new to science.
With continued research, Pearce said, "We can start to build a picture of what limits life in extreme conditions and then start thinking about what might limit life on other planets."
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