Thursday 23 February 2012

Primitive and Eyeless, World's Deepest Land Animal Discovered

In the dark abyss of the world's deepest known cave lurks a newfound species of primitive eyeless insect, one that researchers are calling the deepest land animal ever found.

The creature, now known as Plutomurus ortobalaganensis, is one of four newly discovered species of wingless insects called springtails, which commonly live in total darkness in caves, where they feed on fungi and decomposing organic matter.

The insects were collected during the Ibero-Russian CaveX team expedition to the world's deepest known cave during the summer of 2010. The cave, Krubera-Voronja, is located in Abkhazia, a remote area near the Black Sea in the mountains of Western Caucasus, and reaches a depth of 7,188 feet (2,191 meters) below the surface.

"The CaveX team has been exploring this cave for more than 10 years, hard and dangerous work in a remote area inside the mountains," said researcher Sofia Reboleira, a cave biologist at the University of Aveiro in Portugal, adding that temperatures inside the cave range from 32.9 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5 to 5 degrees Celsius).

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