Friday, September 11, 2009

Eyeless Crustacean: Here's Not Looking At You

"Eyeless Creature Discovered in Undersea Tunnel"
LiveScience (August 25, 2009)

"A previously unknown species of an eyeless crustacean was discovered lurking inside a lava tube beneath the seafloor.

"The creature, named Speleonectes atlantida, lives in the Tunnel de la Atlantida, the world's longest submarine lava tube on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands off the western coast of northern Africa. The discovery, which has implications for the evolution of an ancient group of crustaceans, will be detailed in September in a special issue of the journal Marine Biodiversity.

"While in the cave, the international team of scientists and cave divers also discovered two previously unknown species of annelid worms...."

The lava tube these critters live in is about 20,000 years old, so they must have moved into that particular spot pretty recently, geologically speaking. This newly-discovered species is part of the class Remipedia - and the other 20 or so species live in the Caribbean area, on the other side of the Atlantic.

That doesn't mean that the Canary Islands branch swam across the ocean. The two areas were next to each other. A couple hundred million years ago.

The Canary Islands branch may have been isolated for a long, long time.

The LiveScience article gives a pretty good description of the crustaceans, and three photos: one of the critter, the other two of people looking for the critter.

More about the class remipedia:

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