Rare microscopic crab discovered in Scottish caves
Two caves in Scotland, one of which was previously connected to murders committed by a notorious highwayman in the sixteenth century, may be home to a rare species of microscopic crab, according to a report from Newsweek.
These small stygobitic crustaceans have been discovered living in the water pools of two Scottish caves, Allt nan Uamh Stream in Assynt and Smoo Cave in Sutherland measuring just about 1mm (0.04 inches) in size.
The discovery of the crabs took place during a preliminary expedition in which researchers spent six years investigating 32 caves in different parts of Scotland, said a study published in the JournalCave and Karst Science.
The researchers are still validating the fact if these crabs are a part of a species that has already been detected in other parts of Europe, the outlet further said.
According to Newsweek, the majority of stygobites are obligatory, which means that their only homes are underground. An odd and unusual home for them is the hyporheic zone of rivers, which is the porous silt beneath a stream bed where shallow groundwater and surface water mingle.
They are also frequently found in the underground water table, aquifers, springs, and several other places as well. There are many unanswered questions in this field of study, including how pollution and other disturbances brought on by humans will affect them as well as the basic biology and ecology of groundwater-dwelling creatures.
These two caves where the species may have been found are well-recognised places in the particular area. Smoo Cave is believed to have been utilised by some of the first settlers in the area, while Allt nan Uamh Stream Cave has a well-known caving network.