Astronauts help discover newfound crustacean during cave expedition

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In coaching for exploration of the ultimate frontier, astronauts have made a contribution to our understanding of life right here on Earth.

Over the previous few years, astronauts from a number of nations have helped biologists acquire specimens of an odd, tiny crustacean throughout caving expeditions on the Italian island of Sardinia. The little beast, it seems, was new to science, and it is formally described in a current paper within the journal ZooKeys.

The newfound creature is said to terrestrial isopods, a various group identified to anybody who has ever flipped a log in damp environments. Their many widespread names — potato bug, capsule bug, sow bug, roly-poly and wooden louse, to call however just a few — are a testomony to those invertebrates’ ubiquity. (However the “bug” half is wrong; isopods are extra intently associated to crabs and shrimp than to bugs. And, for those who’ll enable a bit extra pedantry, “bug” technically refers to sure bugs with sucking mouthparts.)

Associated: CAVES 2016 In Footage: How Astronauts Practice for House by Cave Diving

The newly described isopod is completely different from most of its kin, nonetheless. The blind, colorless crustacean, which is lower than zero.four inches (1 centimeter) lengthy, is aquatic, scraping out a residing in cave ponds.

It was first discovered through the 2012 version of the CAVES (Cooperative Journey for Valuing and Exercising human conduct and efficiency Abilities), a two-week European House Company coaching course held in Sardinia’s Sa Grutta cave system. The expertise is designed to assist astronauts be taught to work collectively in a space-like setting.

CAVES additionally includes a wide range of different analysis actions, because the isopod discovery exhibits. Astronauts from Europe, america, Canada, Russia, Japan and China helped acquire and describe the little crustacean in 2012 and on subsequent CAVES expeditions.

The astronauts’ help is mirrored within the little beast’s scientific identify, Alpioniscus sideralis. “Sideralis” is from the Latin phrase for “star.”

“I want to suppose that when people land on Mars and discover its caves, this expertise will assist them to search for different species realizing that life has few limits and might develop in probably the most inhospitable locations,” Paolo Marcia, a zoologist from the College of Sassari in Italy who heads the CAVES biology experiments, mentioned in an announcement.

Authentic story on House.com. 

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