850 New Species Found Underground In Australia
A team of 18 scientists have concluded a four-year research mission in the Australian outback, and found 850 new species of invertabrates in caves and underground water.
The never before seen species include spiders, worms, insects and crustaceans. The team discovered what they called a "completely new component" of Australia's biodiversity, stemming from a period of time when Australia's climate was much more humid than now. Around 1-2 million years ago, the climate stabilised as it is today, and the existing species sought shelter in caverns and underground streams.
Only about half of the species have been named. The animal species will all be called stygofauna, while the plants will be known as troglofauna.
The findings were presented at a conference on evolution and biodiversity in Darwin, Australia, held on the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin.
"What we've found is that you don't have to go searching in the depths of the ocean to discover new species of invertebrate animals – you just have to look in your own 'back yard'," says Professor Austin from the Australian Center for Evolutionary Biology & Biodiversity at the University of Adelaide.