850 New Species Discovered in Underground Lakes and Caves of Australia


Photo: Australian Center for Evolutionary Biology & Biodiversity, University of Adelaide

Does it seem like science is discovering new species left and right lately? After the discovery of the Cat Ba Leopard gecko, bristleworm that eats only dead whale bones, a ghostshark with sex organ on its head, scientists discovered not one, not one hundred, but 850(!) previously unknown blind and pale creatures living in underground lakes and caves:

The species found in these underground habitats were mostly blind and lacking pigment due to the environment in which they live. Above is an amphipod, a shrimp-like crustacean. Of the water-dwelling creatures found, crustaceans represented about seventy-five percent of the new species.

These otherworldly inhabitants of the subterranean outback have adapted to their light-less environments, sometimes by evolving past the need for eyes. They navigate using vibration and chemical senses.

Above is captioned: a crustacean that has fangs connected to secretory glands, from the stygofauna at Cape Range, Western Australia. This is a very primitive group of crustaceans, previously only known from the northern hemisphere.

Link | More details at LiveScience


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