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Scientists find new species in Lanzarote cave

The Spanish-American-German dive expedition ventured into the world’s longest underwater lava tube, on the island of Lanzarote in the Spanish-ruled Canary Islands. One of their findings was a new species of eyeless crustacean.

Comparing DNA with other species of the Speleonectes, the could announce a new species. The expedition also found two new species of bristle worms.

The scientific expedition, carried out from 11 to 25 March 2008, involved a series of exploratory cave dives using closed circuit rebreathers to investigate the world’s longest undersea lava tube located on Lanzarote,
Canary Islands, Spain.

To our surprise, we encountered an astoundingly rich subterranean aquatic fauna that included new species of remipede crustaceans and polychaete annelid worms. As a result of our investigations, we here present a comprehensive description of a unique lava tube ecosystem, including new insights in its ecology,
biodiversity, and environmental variables, said Dr. Stefan Könemann from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany.

Remipedia are among the most remarkable biological discoveries of the last 30 years. The first specimens of this crustacean group were discovered in 1979 during dives in a marine cave system on Grand Bahama in the Bahamas archipelago. Since then, 22 species of Remipedia have been discovered. The main distribution area of the cave-limited group extends from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, through the northeastern Caribbean. However, two geographically isolated species inhabit caves in Western Australia and Lanzarote.

The Corona lava tube on the Canarian island of Lanzarote is a unique subterranean ecosystem comprising both dry and submerged cave sections with a total length of almost 8 km.

The team consisted of scientists from Texas A&M University and Pennsylvania State University in the U.S., the University of La Laguna in Spain, and the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover and University of Hamburg, both in Germany.

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