In the dark abyss of the deepest caves in the world was hiding a new kind of elementary eyeless insect, which the researchers named the most profound of all the animals ever found on earth.
The creature, now known as Plutomurus ortobalaganensis, is one of four new species of wingless insects belonging squad springtails, which usually live in total darkness in caves, where they feed on fungi and decomposed into its constituent parts organic material.
Insects were collected by a team of researchers under the name CaveX during an expedition into the deepest caves in the world in the summer of 2010. Cave Krubera-Crow (Krubera-Voronja), located in Abkhazia, in a remote area near the Black Sea in the western Caucasus mountains and reaches a depth of 2191 meters from the ground.
"The group studied CaveX this cave for over 10 years, this is a very tough and dangerous job in a remote mountainous area" - said Reboleyra Sofia (Sofia Reboleira), a biologist at the University of Aveiro in Portugal, adding that the air temperature in the cave ranges from 32.9 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 0.5 5 degrees Celsius.
"Heavy equipment, including over 2 800 kilometers of ropes and anchors special cave, you must first lift up the mountain and then carry around in my cave" - said the agency Reboleyra LiveScience. "There is no auxiliary equipment, merely human efforts. At the base camp we have no freshwater, only melted snow, and the food should be distributed in such a way that they have enough for 30 people for the entire 30-day expedition. Search cave animals - a task that requires several hours of active operations, it is extremely difficult in the cold conditions of the cave, as the chances of occurrence of hypothermia. "
So far, the most "glubokozemnymi" There is thought to scorpion and insect known as the tarpon, which was discovered at a depth of about 920 meters below the surface in a cave in Mexico. P. ortobalaganensis was found at a depth of about 1,980 meters from the ground and caught with the help of cheese, which has been used by researchers as a decoy.
"We insect P. ortobalaganensis no eyes, but there is little mustache as antennas that help him navigate the dark space" - said the researcher Enrique Baquero (Enrique Baquero), a classifier of the University of Navarra in Spain. These external features are characteristic of troglobionts or cave-dwellers. "However, from troglobionts being distinguished by the presence of pigment, usually absent in the first." (The body of the insect is covered with patches of dark gray).
Baquero researcher suggested that P. ortobalaganensis only recently become dwell at such depths. This can be explained by the presence of certain adaptive traits insect that do not meet the extreme conditions of its habitat. For example, the body has not yet lost the ability to produce pigment that occurs in many cave animals. Color insect normally protects from the sun, attracts the attention of females in the mating season and helps to hide from predators on the ground, but absolutely useless in dark caves.
The scientists describe in detail its findings in the journal Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews.