Wednesday, September 02, 2009

New Species from a dark world

Beneath Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, is the world's longest known underwater lava tube, stretching more than 1.5km. It's no surprise that an environment as strange as the Tunnel de la Atlantida should harbor new species. A recent dive netted three, all of them eyeless: two tiny worms and a 2.5cm-long crustacean from the primitive group known as remipedes. The crustacean is almost transparent and is equipped with poison fangs.
COMMENT: These animals may seem insignificant, but the point is that we find new species everywhere we look: on land, in the seas, underground, in caves, etc. The explosion of life that began so long ago reached all over the globe, into every place life could exist (and some, like seafloor vents gushing superhot, mineral-laden water, where we would have thought it could not exist.)

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