A new species of daddy long legs has been discovered deep in an 800-metre long volcanic cave in Argentina.
The new species, which researchers believe may be blind, was discovered in an 800-metre (2,624-foot) long volcanic cave known as Dona Otilia in the natural park of La Payunia in the province of Mendoza in north-western Argentina.
The insect belongs to the order of the Opiliones colloquially known as harvestmen, harvesters, or daddy longlegs.
Opiliones are known for having exceptionally long legs relative to their body size and scientist believe that the total number of species may exceed 10,000 with more than 6,650 discovered so far.
According to the Argentinian Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), the first specimens were found by the researcher Marcela Peralta from the Fundacion Miguel Lillo and later classified by Luis Acosta from the Institute of Diversity and Animal Biology.
The researcher Costa reportedly named the new species Otilioleptes marcelae to honour the discoverer Marcela Peralta.
According to the researcher, the new species presents very specific morphological characteristics that have made it able to survive in a dark cave.
Acosta told local media: “Some of these distinctive characteristics are elongated appendages, and apparently it is like that because of a sensory need in the darkness they live in.”
Acosta also added: “We are not sure it can see, probably it cannot.”
These species of arachnids are very rare in north-western Argentina as the weather conditions are known to be very arid.
Acosta said: “Dona Otilia is an extensive volcanic cave in which it would be almost impossible for any species of Opiliones to survive.”
However, scientist believed the new species might have survived thanks to the isolation of the cave which created a more humid microclimate similar to how the conditions were in the past.
The scientists also found that there is a water stream flowing in the underground area of the cave which comes from ice melting in the area and keeps humidity up to 80 percent.
The results of the investigation have been published in the scientific magazine PLOS One published by the Public Library of Science.
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Story By: Jonathan Macias, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
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