Madrid, 26 (European press)
The group of mollusks that includes clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops is exclusively rare.
Prior to this study, only three of these species had been confirmed in the world: they all belonged to the genus of small-sized mussels known in southeastern Europe. Moreover, bivalves are not a typical inhabitant of the “underworld”, as they are almost immobile and do not tolerate low-oxygen environments.
A new study by Dr. Luis Ricardo El Simón (Museum of Zoology at the University of São Paulo) and Dr. Rodrigo López Ferreira (Federal University of Lavras), published in the open-access academic journal Subterranean Biology, describes a new in science species of cave-dwelling clam in northern Brazil.
Called Eupera troglobia, the mollusk has characteristics of organisms not intended to see daylight, including hypopigmentation, reduced size, thinner shell, and fewer but larger number of eggs.
Interestingly, in 2006 a report presenting a study of animals in a cave in northern Brazil featured images of what was described as Eupera troglobia. However, the evidence was soon dismissed, claiming that the clam had been washed into the cave by water.
In 2010, Dr. Rodrigo López Ferreira saw the report and noticed the oysters’ discoloration. He wonders if it was really possible that he was looking at a troglobite – an animal that evolved to adapt to cave life, hypogeal, or troglodyte in caves – he looked at specimens collected from that study, but couldn’t find any colorless bivalves .
Ten years later, his team visited the cave specifically to search for hypopigmented shells. Although the cave was partially flooded, the researchers were able to identify the specimens they needed attached to the cave walls.
In conclusion, the scientists emphasized that their discovery is the latest reminder of the importance of preserving fragile subterranean habitats, given the treasures hidden in their properties.
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