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August 14 2013

Antarctic: Where 'zombies' thrive and shipwrecks are preserved


Ernest Shackleton's famous ship, the Endurance, which he had to abandon in 1915 on his ill-fated Antarctic expedition, is probably still in very good condition on the ocean floor. This is one conclusion from research that studied how sunken wood degrades in southern polar waters.

Experiments that submerged planks for over a year found they returned to the surface in near-pristine condition. Scientists point to the absence in the region of wood-boring "ship worms". Anywhere else in the world, these molluscs would normally devour sunken wood rapidly.

But Adrian Glover from London's Natural History Museum says the currents that circle the Antarctic likely prevent the organisms from getting anywhere near the continent.

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