Carlsbad, NM – A new species of freshwater shrimp-like crustacean was recently discovered in a gypsum cave northeast of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The shrimp was found on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management during a biological inventory conducted by ZARA Environmental.
Examination by scientists indicates that the specimen is a new species of amphipod previously unknown to science. It is closely related to Parabogidiella amerciana, a blind subterranean species which lives primarily in the Edwards Aquifer in central Texas.
Dr. John Holsinger with the Biological Sciences Department of Old Dominion University in Virginia first described that genus and species in 1980. “This is a very unique species, and this finding represents a significant range extension,” said Dr. Holsinger of the new discovery. “There are significant differences in the morphology of the rear appendages that make it a new species.”
Dr. Holsinger has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Randy Gibson in San Marcos, Texas to conduct the taxonometric description. “This is quite an interesting find,” Gibson said. “There was only one species in this genus, and now there are two. They are considered primitive marine relics with ancestors possibly left over from receding Cretaceous seas.”
Jim Goodbar, BLM Senior Cave and Karst Specialist, has also been involved with the discovery. “It’s not every day a new species is discovered in one of our caves,” Goodbar said. “There is still a lot we don’t know about the land beneath our feet. Karst aquifers are unique and highly valuable. They provide specialized habitat for species yet to be discovered.”