Scientists have recently described the deepest terrestrial animal ever found, together with four new species. 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 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.
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 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 more than 2 kilometres in depth.
The discovery of life in such deep systems launches new insights into the way we look at life on Earth. In total absence of light and extremely 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-physiological strategies for survival at such depth, over the course of 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.
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