"It is possible that our experiments were not left long enough, or that the size of the lots of wood, or the presence of whalebone, has inhibited larval development" of wood-boring species, the researchers acknowledge. But similar experiments at other latitudes have shown that wood-boring species are capable of infesting wood at the end of three months, and in some cases, destroying a sample completely within a year, they reported.
But for more than 30 million years, the Antarctic continent was tree free.
"Since humans first started exploring the Antarctic, wood has been deposited on the seafloor in the form of shipwrecks and waste; our data suggest that this anthropogenic wood may be exceptionally well preserved," the authors wrote.
Stay tuned for possible future discoveries!
IMAGE: Parborlasia corrugatus, or the proboscis worm, is a scavenger that will comb the ocean floor eating sponges, jellyfish, anemones, and fish. This photo was taken in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, under 5 meters of sea ice. An underwater field guide to McMurdo Sound is available at: http://scilib.ucsd.edu/sio/nsf/fguide/index.html. (Henry Kaiser, National Science Foundation)