Scientists from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague and the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice discovered an unknown species of cave crayfish in the submerged river near the village of Palimoro on the island of New Guinea.
Scientists Martin Bláha, Jiří Patoka and Antonín Kouba described their discovery in the international academic journal Zootaxa.
This new species - Cherax acherontis is the first cave crayfish from the Southern Hemisphere. It has typical features that occur in animals living in cave systems - loss of pigmentation, stunted eyes and mouth opening adapted to food sources which are available in caves.
Originally, scientists wanted to study this species in the Czech Republic, but the transport of the crayfish organism was administratively so complicated that they had no choice but to go to Indonesia by themselves to study the animal. It has been confirmed that the discovered crayfish really belongs to a new species.
They are evolutionarily close to Australian and Indonesian crayfish, but due to life in caves and adaptations connected with this way of life they have much more in common with the North American cave crayfish, even though they belong to a completely different genus. "They are relatively large, the male grows from 15 to 20 centimetres," said Bláha. Scientists want to return to Indonesia for further examination.
Five Indonesian universities and one museum are currently involved in this successful international cooperation.