Teacher’s questions for Animals under Antarctic ice
- Describe what you know about Antarctica and its climate.
- What types of plants, animals or other organisms would you expect to find there?
- Describe at least four things about Lake Vostok that contribute to making it special.
- Scientists have just found evidence for what kinds of living things there? Name at least five types of organisms in this group.
- Describe how scientists have turned up evidence for these species.
- Why had scientists expected the life in Vostok’s waters to all be microbes?
- Some scientists think evidence for animals in Lake Vostok may be due to contamination. Name three possible sources for that contamination.
- Name three ways that Scott Rogers and his colleagues tried to eliminate any influence of such contamination.
- With no plants and photosynthesis in the dark lake, what might be a source of food and energy for anything living in Vostok’s waters?
- Describe the “fossil” DNA that Eske Willerslev found in Greenland.
- When did the Russian team reach the surface of Lake Vostok? When did an American team reach the surface of Lake Whillans?
- How many hours of sunlight are there in Antarctica during the middle of summer? How many hours of darkness are there during mid-winter? What makes the lengths of days and nights there so much more exaggerated than in your home town? Explain role of the tilt of Earth’s axis.
- Most scientists working on samples from Lakes Vostok and Whillans do most their analyses back in their home labs. Why does that make sense? Hint: How long can they work in Antarctica and how much equipment would they need to have available?
- Imagine that you received an opportunity to join a research team working at a subglacial lake in Antarctica. Over what three month period would you most likely be asked to show up? Why those months and no other?
- Most people heading for Antarctica depart from Christchurch, New Zealand, or Ushuaia, Argentina. Use a map and calculate the distance from your home town to each of these departure cities.
- A treaty to protect Antarctica was signed into law in 1959. What does it call for? And what does it say about who can “own” parts of Antarctica?