New cave-dwelling arachnids discovered in Brazil

Posted By News On May 22, 2013 - 9:30pm
New cave-dwelling arachnids discovered in Brazil

Two new species of cave-dwelling short-tailed whipscorpions have been discovered in northeastern Brazil, and are described in research published May 22 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Adalberto Santos, from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) and colleagues.

The reddish-brown short-tailed whipscorpions inhabit cool, humid limestone caves in an otherwise arid region. Both new species, Rowlandius ubajara and Rowlandius potiguara, were found deep within the limestone caves, which are also home to bats. Bat guano and seed deposits harbor springtails and other small insects which are likely to serve as prey to these arachnids.

Both species were found only within the caves but there is little indication that they have adapted exclusively to life in darkness. Though specimens of both species lack eye spots, the authors clarify that this is a common trait in short-tailed whipscorpions, since the group does not rely heavily on visual information to survive. The authors conclude that it may not be uncommon to find them outside caves, and only further studies outside these caves will confirm the extent to which these new species may have adapted to become exclusive cave dwellers.

This image shows Rowlandius ubajara sp.nov., female from Ubajara, Ceara, Brazil.

(Photo Credit: Santos AJ, Ferreira RL, Buzatto BA (2013) Two New Cave-Dwelling Species of the Short-Tailed Whipscorpion Genus Rowlandius (Arachnida: Schizomida:Hubbardiidae) from Northeastern Brazil, with Comments on Male Dimorphism. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63616. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063616)

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