Washington: Scientists have discovered four new species of primitive eyeless insects, one of which they described as the deepest land animal ever found.
These animals are springtails (Arthropoda, Insecta, Collembola), a minute primitive wingless insect with six-legs and without eyes that commonly live in total darkness in caves, where they feed on fungi and decomposing organic matter.
Described by Rafael Jordana and Enrique Baquero from University of Navarra (Spain), they are known for science as: Anurida stereoodorata, Deuteraphorura kruberaensis, Schaefferia 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.
The insects were collected during the Ibero-Russian CaveX team expedition to the world’s deepest known 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.
First Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012, 15:12