(ORDO NEWS) — Biologists have discovered the first American bivalve that lives in caves. An article about this was published in Subterranean Biology.
Bivalve mollusks living underground are a rarity. Animals of this class do not tolerate low oxygen environments, and only three such species are known to scientists living under the surface of the Earth in South-Eastern Europe.
Luis Ricardo Simone of the Museum of Zoology at the University of São Paulo and colleagues have described a new species of mollusc that lives in caves in northern Brazil.
Eupera troglobia has features that are characteristic of creatures not intended by evolution for life in the light. Including, it lacks pigmentation, reduced size, thinner shell and fewer eggs in the clutch, but larger ones.
Unlike other related species that live in the roots of water hyacinth, this species is attached to the walls of caves with the help of byssus – a system of strong protein filaments.
Photos of bleached clams were taken back in 2010. However, biologists have now visited the partially flooded caves and have been able to find animals in significant numbers.
The researchers stress that their discovery serves as another reminder of the importance of preserving fragile underground habitats.
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