Two scientists from Iceland recently discovered creatures they believe may have survived the last ice age and which are likely to be the oldest inhabitants of the country.
Although many experts believe that the last ice age exterminated life on land and in freshwater areas, researchers from the Holar University College and the University of Iceland have come to think otherwise.
Bjarni K. Kristjánsson is part of the team that discovered two species of groundwater amphipods in Iceland. The creatures are some of the only animal species unique to the island and not observed elsewhere on earth.
“These finding can only be explained by these animals surviving glaciations in some kind of refugium under the glaciers,” said Kristjánsson.
Jörundur Svavarsson, the second scientist, explained; “Groundwater amphipods are poor at dispersal, and cannot be transported with birds or humans.”
Since the newly discovered creatures are groundwater amphipods, that suggests they have been living in Iceland for a long time. The two Icelandic scientists suggest that the amphipod arrived in the area 30 or 40 million years ago, at the same time the island was forming from active volcanoes.
“If our theory is correct, we have discovered the oldest inhabitants of Iceland, and that can help us further understand how Iceland was formed,” says Kristjansson.