Toxic centipede It is the largest predator in a very black poisonous cave that has not seen daylight in over 5.5 million years.
Movile Cave in Romania is more than 65 feet (20 meters) below the surface, and its warm, humid air is low. Oxygen And thickened by the toxic gases that feed the synthetic chemical bacteria. However, despite these seemingly infernal conditions, the cave hosts a variety of spiders, scorpions, and other arthropods, along with snails, earthworms, and cave leeches.
Now, scientists have added a new species to the list: Centipede they named Centipede Cryptops speleorex“That can be translated to” king of the cave, “say the researchers He said in a statement.
The “king” is only 2 inches (52 mm) long, but it is “by far” the largest predatory arthropod in the cave, where its domain is ruled by fatal bites, researchers report in a new study published online on December 3. 16 in the magazine ZooKeys keys.
Since the discovery of Movile Cave in 1986, few people have discovered its dangerous depths. The air contains a high percentage of hydrogen sulfide, methane, and ammonia carbon There is a shortage of oxygen dioxide and oxygen, with levels in some parts of the cave up to 7% (the average oxygen level above ground is usually around 21%). Scientists wrote that although the air temperature is relatively comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), relative humidity is 100% and air circulation is close to zero.
Entering the cave is risky, leading explorers down a long and narrow shaft and through winding tunnels of limestone that finally open up into a main cave with a lake. The BBC reported in 2015. Exploring what remains of the cave system requires diving into the lake and navigating through narrow underwater paths – in total darkness – feeding into tiny caves called air bells, according to the BBC.
The study authors report that in this dark, isolated, and poisoned kingdom live 51 species of invertebrates, 34 of which are only found in Movile Cave. The newly described king of the cave, C. speleorex, It has a yellow-brown body with pale yellow antennae, and yellow legs are studded with 13 to 17 “saw teeth”. As the largest invertebrate predator in the cave’s ecosystem, this centipede stands at the top of the food chain. Other researchers have noted previously C. speleorex Snack on primitive insects, spiders, beetles, and isopods (shrimp-like crustaceans).
Centipede is very similar to a centipede C. anomalans, Which is found all over the world, and was most similar to C. anomalans Population in Romania and Serbia. However, some features in the newly discovered species, such as the long antennae and more saw teeth on their legs, indicate that they possess unique sensory specialties to help them survive in the cave devoid of light.
The researchers ’findings revealed that“ the moving centipede differs morphologically and genetically ”from its terrestrial cousins, and is evolving from its closest relatives on the surface of the earth over millions of years to a completely new classification that is better adapted to life in the statement. .
Originally published on Live Science.