In 2010, a research team for the Antarctic Geological Drilling Program (ANDRILL) was working off the Ross Ice Shelf, deploying a remote-controlled submersible robot beneath the ice to investigate south pole water currents. A deep hole (850 ft / 259 m) was drilled in the ice, the robot plopped into the water below, and then it happened.
Where the researchers expected to be looking at open water and currents, they found an entirely unexplored ecosystem attached to the underside of the ice.
Anemones, marine worms, amphipods, and a previously unknown creatures simply dubbed ‘the eggroll’. Anemones, which are usually known for burrowing into sand, are not known for living on ice. The entire underside of the ice shelf was inhabited as if it were an upside-down sea floor.
The engineering project had become a different creature itself, a voyage of evolutionary exploration.
It’s an excellent reminder that sometimes the best way to discover the unexpected is to go in search of something else.