A newly discovered insect that is believed to have been around since the last ice age has recently appeared in BC. How fitting that we find this ice age bug now seeing as we are experiencing this frigid cold front! This cave dwelling, cold-loving bug was found living on Vancouver Island and according to a study that has since been published, it’s species may have been around for nearly 26,500 years.
This resilient insect, Haplocampa wagnelli, is an arthropod that was found living in a cave near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. This bug is transparent in colour and a whopping four millimeters long, has six legs, and according to Global, it doesn't have any eyes! But I guess when you live in a dark cave, seeing isn't exactly a priority.
Entomologist Alberto Sendra and local caver Craig Wagnell are the lucky individuals who discovered this creature. According to their now published study, this discovery could mean that terrestrial anthropoids, like this cutie, have been able to survive within deep subterranean habitats since the last ice age nearly 26,500 years ago.
“This means they can survive in the glacial period. And this is very remarkable because there are no examples of species that live in subterranean areas so up north” said Sendra to Global.
This #NewSpecies of #dipluran from the island of #Vancouver (Canada) has either spent the Last Glacial Maximum period in caves deep below a sheet of ice or has travelled transcontinentally.— Subterranean Biology (@subtbiol) February 5, 2019
See: https://t.co/nFUEsDH8UB @Eurekalert@UAHes #Diplura #Biodiversity #Taxonomy #Zoology pic.twitter.com/YteGUEGOr2
Another conclusion being drawn is that ancestors of this bug dispersed into different areas during the deglaciation period. Researchers have come to this conclusion due to the close relationships between the genus of the new species and three other species already known from two sides of the north Pacific Ocean. These similar insects have been found on Japanese Islands, Siberia and North America.
According to the research, this evidence suggests that dispersal events may have occurred by populations crossing over the Land Bridge which formerly connected America and Asia.
The insect's name, Haplocampa wagnelli, pays tribute to co-author and caver Craig Wagnell. Wagnell is an experienced caver and has spent many years exploring the diverse caves on Vancouver Island.
Although an interesting discovery, this bug has raised more questions than answers. According to an interview conducted by Global, Sendra believes that this opens up the possibility to search for species in other places where nobody would think to look for them. Maybe you even have something living in your own backyard!
A complete overview of the research has recently been published by Subterranean Biology and can be found online.