GENEVA — A defecting Russian scientist has surfaced with a mind-bending account of what REALLY occurred when he and his colleagues went missing for five days in a mysterious lake 12,366 feet beneath the Antarctic ice.
Dr. Anton Padalka told authorities in Switzerland that the researchers discovered a bizarre and deadly life form dubbed Organism 46-B – a highly intelligent octopus-like creature that claimed the lives of three of the team members.
But the government of Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that “nothing of scientific interest” was found – because the former KGB strongman hopes to weaponize the organism.
“The discovery of such unusual life in Lake Vostok was the most important scientific breakthrough in decades, but we were ordered not to divulge it because of Mr. Putin’s sinister scheme,” the whistleblowing geologist told the Swiss.
It was in early February 2012 that members of the Russian Antarctic Expedition succeeded in the drilling through more than two miles of thick ice to Lake Vostok – a project that took more than 30 years. Because the freshwater lake has been sealed off from the rest of the world for between 15 and 34 million years, scientists had predicted they would find new species that had evolved far differently than any seen before.
“According to our research, the quantity of oxygen there exceeds that on other parts of our planet by 10 to 20 times. Any life forms that we find are likely to be unique on Earth,” Sergey Bulat, the project’s Chief Scientist said on Russian TV as the geologists were drilling down.
Previously, extremely weird creatures had been found in deep-sea vents off the coast of Antarctica including hairy-chested yeti crabs that feed on gardens of bacteria they cultivate on their bodies and carnivorous, seven-armed sea stars that can catch and kill those crabs.
Just as the eight man team neared the lake all communication with the outside world mysteriously ceased. As days crept by and the researchers failed to respond to increasing frantic efforts to reach them by radio, fellow scientists worldwide feared the worst.
“No word from the ice for 5 days,” Dr. John Priscu, a professor of ecology at Montana State University and head of a similar Antarctic exploration program grimly told Fox News at the time. “I can only imagine what it’s like.”
Or maybe he couldn’t. Dr Padalka claims that during this time, he and his colleagues were fighting for their lives in the lost world deep beneath the earth’s surface.
“We encountered Organism 46-B on day one as we were conducting a preliminary dive in our low-temperature wetsuits,” he recounts. “It disabled our radio, which we later learned to our alarm, was intentional.”
Although the creature has 14 arms instead of the usual eight, it kills in a similar manner to an ordinary octopus — seizing its prey, injecting it with paralyzing saliva then dismembering it into small pieces with its beak. But Organism 46-B has another trick up its sleeve.
“It is able to paralyze prey at a distance of up to 150 feet by releasing its venom into the water from an organ similar to its ink sac,” explained Dr. Padlaka. “Tragically, my colleague and life-long friend Dr. Vindogradov was killed this way. He tread water wearing a blissful smile as the organism approached him. We watched helplessly as it used its arms to tear off his head, then popped his remains its mouth. It was as if it had hypnotized him telepathically.”
The 33-foot-long man-eater also boasts extraordinary camouflage that helped it stalk the researchers.
“Many species of octopus can alter their appearance, usually to avoid larger predators,” Dr. Padalka explained. “Sacs of colorful pigments called chromatophores allow them to change colors, and by contracting their muscles they can blend in with the smooth ocean floor or a craggy coral reef. The well-known mimic octopus can contort its boneless body to take on the shape of a sea snake or stingray.”
But the shape-shifting abilities of Organism 46-B sound almost diabolical.
“It shaped itself into the form of a human diver. We thought it was one my colleagues swimming toward us in scuba gear. By the time the closest scientist realized what it was, it had grabbed him and torn him to bits.”
If an arm of an ordinary octopus is cut off, the severed limb will crawl away – sometimes even seize prey and place it in the mouth of the octopus. Experts say that’s because each arm contains a cluster of neurons – essentially its own brain. The arms of Organism 46-B demonstrated a chilling knack for operating autonomously.
“After our sole female researcher chopped off one of the arms with an ax, the severed limb yanked the weapon out of her hands,” recalled the scientist. “That night the arm slithered onto the icy bank where we were sleeping and strangled her.”
The experts believe that not only does the octopus regenerate its limbs, the brainy severed tentacle may be able to form a new octopus.
Octopuses are extraordinarily intelligent, able to negotiate mazes, use tools and even build structures with Legos. The newly discovered entity is in a class by itself.
“From the way it adapted each time we changed our tactics, we became convinced it is at least as intelligent as an average human,” Dr. Padalka revealed. “If we were not all Ph.Ds, I fear it would have in the end outwitted us.”
Miraculously, the eggheads were able to capture the creature in a tank. After the five surviving scientists made their way to the surface, the program’s director ordered that the bore hole be immediately plugged. The geologists expected to be honored internationally for their amazing find. To their great disappointment, however, the Russian government claimed that the team had found no life in Lake Vostok – and denied that divers had even entered the water.
“There’s nothing much down there, I can assure you,” according to a statement by the chief of the Vostok Research Station, A. M. Yelagin. The director of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, Valery Lukin, admitted that the plug had been put in place but called the precaution “routine.”
U.S. and British experts were puzzled by the announcement.
“It’s a little bit of an anti-climax,” geologist Dr. David L. Meckenroy of the U.K. said on TV at the time. “It’s hard to believe we were so wrong about there being unusual life down there.”
Dr. Padalka claims he fled his native country in July after learning to his horror that the government is planning to put the discovery to military use.
“Some species of octopus lay 200,000 eggs,” he pointed out. “Imagine if they were deposited in reservoirs and lakes across North America?”
The Russian government calls the whistleblower’s claims preposterous.
“It is laughable. Ho, ho, ho,” declared Mikhail Belochkin of the Bureau of Truthful Information. “It sounds like something you might see on one of your science fiction TV channels. The Cold War is over, my friends. If our scientists made a discovery of such magnitude, do you seriously doubt that we would share it with the world?”
Copyright C. Michael Forsyth
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