Scientists Identify Eight New Species Found in Israeli Cave

August 15, 2012 / Israel, Asia
New Arthropod Found in Israel's Ayalon Cave

Photo by Amos Frumkin/Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Scientists have identified eight new species found living completely cut off from the surface in a cave near Ramle, Israel.

Initially situated about 100 meters (328 feet) below the surface, Ayalon Cave was discovered in April 2006 when a bulldozer working in a quarry above happened to open an entrance to the previously isolated system.

Researchers descending on the 2.7 kilometer (1.7 mile) long cave immediately after it was discovered, found an independent ecosystem that wasn’t based on photosynthesis. Instead energy was extracted by Chemoautotrophic bacteria, living in a film on top of a pool of groundwater.

Small arthropods discovered in the cave, suspected to be endemic to the cave, are believed to have been isolated for millions of years after crawling in very tiny holes to reach the cavern.

After sending the specimens all over the world for further investigation, seven of the eight species have now been named and described. Typhlocaris ayyaloni, Tethysbaena ophelicola, Metacyclops longimaxillis, and Metacyclops subdolus are all aquatic species, while Akrav israchanani, Ayyalonia dimentmani and Lepidospora ayyalonica are terrestrial.

The eighth new species has been identified as belonging to the group Collembola, but it has not yet been named.

New species thrive in Ramle underworld [The Jerusalem Post] & Scientists identify eight previously unknown species in underground cave near Ramle [Haaretz]

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