The Krubera Cave is now home to a new species of cave dwelling beetle. Krubera is the world’s deepest cave known to man and the only cave to extend beyond 2,000 meters deep. The cave is home to a variety of endemic species that are not found in other parts of the world. This new beetle, Duvalius Abyssimus, was captured in the cave, but not in the deepest parts.
The deepest parts of the cave require the researcher to go through flooded passages, something that is very dangerous and would require an expert knowledge of diving in order to pass through the flooded chambers. Researchers are drawn to the Krubera Cave because it has a variety of different fauna all located in one place because of the geographic location of the cave. There are species of fauna from Asia and Europe as well as endemic creatures that only exist in the small areas of the caves.
The cave is located in the Arabika Massif, an outcropping of mountains in the Western Caucasus. The Caucasus Mountains are dividers between Europe and Asia. The mountain is made of limestone that dips down into the Black Sea and plunges below the sea level. Because of the limestone’s towering heights there is a possibility for amazing deep caves that bore the length of the mountain and into the earth below its base. Limestone is a very porous rock that erodes easily letting water carve the caves.
The two scientists who discovered the new beetle, Ana Sofia Reboleira and Vicente M. Ortuno, in the Krubera Cave are from Spanish universities. They published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal called Zootaxa. Both have dedicated large portions of their lives to studying subterranean fauna.
The name of the cave, Krubera, comes from a group of Georgian speleologists who explored the cave back in the 1960s and named it after an eminent Russian geographer, Alexander Kruber, who first explored features in the Arabika Masssif area in 1909. The other name for the cave is Voronya, which is slang for crow. It was named the crow’s cave because back in the 1980s when it was being explored there were large numbers of crows nesting in the entrance. Both names are often used, but since the title Krubera Cave was named first it gets priority.
The Duvalius Abyssimus beetle has begun adapting to live below the surface of the earth. The genus Duvalius has been successful in colonizing the depths of the earth before and the majority of the species have a lifestyle suited to being underground. This new beetle in the Krubera Cave has adapted moderately but not fully to being below the earth’s surface. Those that are highly specialized to live in caves usually evolve to lose their eyes because no light ever reaches such depths.
Many believe there may be even more endemic species in the caves. Vicente M. Ortuno, one of the researchers, believes that the find will offer important data on species that co-exist in these mysterious environments. Because sections of Krubera Cave are so difficult to access, many more new species besides the new beetle could have a home in more isolated areas of the cave system.
By B. Taylor Rash