Monday, September 28, 2009

850 pale, underground creatures discovered

850 mostly blind, pale creatures discovered underground
Down under in Australia, down underground that is, scientists have found 850 previously unknown species living in subterranean water, caves, and micro-caverns. These insects, crustaceans, spiders, and worms are likely only about one-fifth of the number of undiscovered species the researchers think exist underground amid the harsh conditions of the Australian outback. Two species of blind fish and two of blind eels were also uncovered.

"What we've found is that you don't have to go searching in the depths of the ocean to discover new species of invertebrate animals — you just have to look in your own backyard," said researcher Andy Austin, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia. [Scientists say only a fraction of the species of plants and animals on the planet have been discovered.]

Only half of the species discovered have so far been named, the scientists announced today. Generically, the animals found in underground water are known as "stygofauna" and those from caves and micro-caverns are known as "troglofauna." More>>