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Scientists describe the deepest terrestrial arthropod ever found

10 February 2012 Brill

Scientists have recently described the deepest terrestrial animal ever found, together with 4 new species for science. These animals are springtails (Arthropoda, Insecta, Collembola), a minute primitive wingless insect with six-legs and without eyes that live in total darkness.

Described by Rafael Jordana and Enrique Baquero from University of Navarra (Spain), they are known for science as: Anurida stereoodorataDeuteraphorura kruberaensisSchaefferia profundissima and Plutomurus ortobalaganensis. The last one is the deepest arthropod ever found, at the remarkable depth of 1.980 meters (2,165 yards) below ground surface.

These animals were collected during the biospeleological works of Sofia Reboleira, from the University of Aveiro (Portugal) and Alberto Sendra, from the Valencian Museum of Natural History (Spain), both who were members of the Ibero-Russian CaveX Team Expedition to the World’s deepest cave, during the summer of 2010.

The World’s deepest cave, Krubera-Voronja, reaching nowadays the remarkable depth of -2.191 meters below ground level, is located in Abkhazia, a remote area near the Black Sea in the mountains of Western Caucasus, being the only cave in the World with more than 2 kilometres of depth.

The discovery of life in such deep systems launches new insights about the way we look at life on Earth. In total absence of light and extreme low food resources, cave-dwelling animals have unique adaptations to subterranean life. They lack body pigmentation, they have no eyes and have been developing morpho-physological strategies for survival at such depth, during millions of years. One of the species has, for example, a spectacular chemoreceptor, a highly specialised type of the habitual post-antennal organ of the springtails.

Attached files

  • Krubera-Voronya cave pro? le, location of Figures 1, 3–5 , and locations at which new species were found (red dots and red line). Adapted from Ukrainian Speleological Association 2010, compiled by A. Klimchouk.

  • h e cave at -1980 m bgl, the deepest habitat of Plutomurus ortobalaganensis n. sp. Photo by Denis Provalov

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