Science

Whip Scorpions Discovered In Limestone Caves

By Hilda Scott , May 23, 2013 02:07 PM EDT
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Two new species of whip scorpions, also known as Schizmoda, were discovered living in caves located in northeastern Brazil. These new additions to the arachnid order are called Rowlandius ubajara and Rowlandius potiguar.

One of the newly unearthed whip scorpion species, Rowlandius ubajara were found only in Brazil's Ubajara cave, located in a small patch of Brazilian Atlantic forest. Specimens of the other species, R. potiguar were found in 20 caves along the Apodi limestone group.

Male and female specimens were taken of the reddish-brown colored whip scorpions and examined by researchers. The population of the R.ubajara whip scorpion found in the inner part of the cave was small. Researchers theorized that this species potentially ate springtails, modern hexapods, which are no longer considered insects and booklice, which are.

Bats dwelled in the cave as well, so bat dung was also considered to be a possible food source for the whip scorpions. The average temperature of the cave was 74 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity was 99 percent in the inner area where the new species were located.

The other species, R.potiguar that were found in 20 caves were accustomed to a moist environment. No specimens were found in caves that were completely dry. The sizes of the populations that were found varied, as did the conditions of each cave. In one particular cave, the Casa de Pedra, specimens of the species were found in the area that was wet. Springtails, small flies and booklice were potential prey for the whip scorpions.

The discovery of these new species will help researchers to understand how the arachnids adapted to become exclusive to cave-dwelling. Their findings were published on May 22 in the journal PLOS ONE.

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