New Beetle Species Discovered in World’s Deepest Cave

First Posted: Jul 02, 2014 04:04 AM EDT

A team of Spanish researchers have discovered a new species of cave beetle in Krubera Cave, the deepest cave on Earth.

Cave beetles, the six-legged insects, are known to be the most iconic species that dominate the subterranean habitats and the first living organism known to science. These beetles have well-adapted themselves to the condition of hypogean or subterranean life. The discovery was made by Ana Sofia Reboleira, researcher at the Universities of Aveiro and La Laguna, and Vicente M. Ortuno from the University of Alcala.

The new species of cave beetle dubbed Duvalius Abyssimus was identified in the Krubera cave - a mysterious site that attracts international scientists and divers to explore the secrets within. The Krubera cave that is more than 2,140 metres deep is situated in Arabika massif, in the Western Caucasus and is also called as the Voronya cave. It is considered the 'Everest of the Caves'.

"The new species of cave beetle is called Duvalius abyssimus. We only have two specimens, a male and a female. Although they were captured in the world's deepest cave, they were not found at the deepest point," Vicente M. Ortuno, from the University of Alcala, said in a release. He has dedicated the last 10 years to studying subterranean fauna, declared to SINC.

Belonging to the Duvalius genus of beetle in the Carabidae family, these beetles are known to be the successful colonisers of Earth's deepest points in which majority of the species live in caves or underground compartments.

Analyzing the characteristics of the newly identified cave beetle, scientists assume that these species have moderately adapted themselves to the underground life. This is based on the presence of eyes in the species, which is not present in the highly specialized cave species.

"Its location is strategic, since there are fauna of European, Asian and also endemic origin in the zone," the scientist underlined.

The region where the cave is found is biogeographically an interesting area and the altitude is known to be between 1,900-2,500 metres. The cave consists of lower and upper Jurassic-Cretaceous limestone.

"The discovery of the new beetle provides important data on species that co-exist in these almost unknown ecosystems, even more so when they are found in a geographical area that is very difficult to access, such is the case with this cave," Ortuno concluded.

The finding was documented in the journal Zootaxa.

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