English scientists discovered eight new in Israeli cave
Researchers from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University have discovered eight previously unknown invertebrate species within “a new and unique underground ecosystem” in central Israel.
The new species found in the cave – four seawater and freshwater crustaceans and four terrestrial species – are related but different from other, similar life forms known to scientists.
It is estimated that these species are millions of years old.
Also found in the cave were bacteria that serve as the basic food source in the ecosystem.
The discovery of the new species came about when a small opening was found, leading to a cave extending to a depth of 100 meters beneath the surface of a quarry in the vicinity of Ramle.
The cave, which has been dubbed the Ayalon Cave, is “unique in the world,” said Professor Amos Frumkin, of the Hebrew University Department of Geography.
This is due mainly to its isolation from the outside world, since the cave’s surface is situated under a layer of chalk that is impenetrable to water.
The cave, with its branches, extends over some 2½ kilometers, making it Israel’s second largest limestone cave.
“The eight species found thus far are only the beginning of what promises to be a fantastic biodiversity,” said Dr Hanan Dimentman, of the Hebrew University Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences.
He said that he expects further exploration to reveal several other unique life forms.
All the animals were discovered live, except for a blind species of scorpion.