What the team found in the L'Atalante dead zone was three species of living animals, two of which contained eggs.
Although it was not possible to extract the animals alive in order to show that they could live without oxygen, the team was able to incubate the eggs in anoxic conditions aboard on the ship.
The eggs hatched successfully in a completely oxygen-free environment.
"It is a real mystery how these creatures are able to live without oxygen because until now we thought only bacteria could do this," said Professor Danovaro, who heads Italy's Association of Limnology (the study of inland waters).
"We did not think we could find any animal living there. We are talking about extreme conditions - full of salt, with no oxygen."
This is great news for the exo-biologists.
[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, April 11th, 2010.]