New types of yeti crab, starfish and octopus were among the species found 8,000 feet below the surface of the sea, Oxford University researchers said.
The new life-forms were able to exist by feeding off chemicals from black smoke emitted by volcanic hot vents beneath the Southern Ocean, where temperatures can reach 720 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Hydrothermal vents are home to animals found nowhere else on the planet that get their energy not from the Sun but from breaking down chemicals, such as hydrogen sulphide," according to Oxford University professor Alex Rogers, who led the research.
Researchers captured images of the creatures — including an unidentified pale octopus — using a remotely-operated vehicle more than a mile below the surface of the ocean.
"What we didn't find is almost as surprising as what we did," Rogers said. "Many animals — such as tubeworms, vent mussels, vent crabs and vent shrimps — found in hydrothermal vents in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans simply weren't there."
He added, "Everywhere we look, whether it is in the sunlit coral reefs of tropical waters or these Antarctic vents shrouded in eternal darkness, we find unique ecosystems that we need to understand and protect."
The results of the study were published in the journal PLoS Biology.