New Shrimp-y Species Found in NM Cave

Carlsbad Caverns yields tiny translucent critters
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 18, 2012 2:20 PM CDT
New Shrimp-y Species Found in NM Cave
A newly discovered species of freshwater amphipod, recently found in a subterranean pool inside a gypsum cave near Carlsbad, NM.    (Randy Gibson)

Shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo ... now add "blind, tiny, and almost translucent" shrimp to the list: Scientists have discovered a new shrimp-like species in a cave near Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. "You never know what you're going to find down there," says a senior cave specialist with the Bureau of Land Management, which announced the find yesterday. The species of amphipod was discovered about a month ago in a subterranean pool no more than 80 feet from the surface. The cave had been explored before, but samples had never been taken of the water until a biological inventory was done as part of plans to expand potash mining in the area.

Scientists are already making guesses at whether the new species is carnivorous or feeds on bacteria, minerals, or vegetative bits in the water. The new species has not been named, but officials said it has been grouped with the Parabogidiella genus. "One of the interesting things about this is these guys, these critters have been down there for tens of thousands of years, millions of years and we're just getting around to finding them," says the specialist. (Read more shrimp stories.)

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