Separated for 20 million years: Blind beetle from Bulgarian caves clarifies questions

Jul 13, 2011
Paralovricia beroni is a new species. Scale bar: 1 mm. Credit: Pensoft Publishers

One of the smallest ever cave-dwelling ground beetles (Carabidae), has recently been discovered in two caves in the Rhodopi Mountains, Bulgaria, and described under the name Paralovricia beroni. The beetle is completely blind and is only 1.8-2.2 mm long. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

"When we saw this beetle for first time, it became immediately clear that it belongs to a genus and species unknown to science. Moreover, its systematic position within the family of Carabidae remained unclear for several years. After a careful study of its closest Lovricia and Neolovricia, discovered in of the Dinaric Alps of Croatia, we came to the conclusion that all three genera belong to a new subtribe which we describe now under the name Lovriciina", commented Borislav Gueorguiev from the National Natural History Museum in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The species of this group are extremely rare and are known only from a few . Lovricia jalzici was described in 1979 which is presently known only from a single female specimen found at the cave Gospodska pećina in Croatia; Lovricia aenigmatica is known from one male and one female found at an unnamed pit near the peak Sveti Jure on the Biokovo Mountains and from another female from Lovrićija Jama II (Sveti Jure, Biokovo); lastly, Neolovricia ozimei was described also very recently (2009), and is known from one female found in the cave Špilja u Radinovcima in the Biokovo Mountains, Croatia.

The new discovery sheds light on the paleogeographic history of the Balkans. The currently known distribution of this group of with common origin is widely disjointed between the Dinarides (West Balkans) to the Rhodopes (Еast Balkans).

"To explain this" - adds the lead author Pier Мauro Ciachino, from Torino, Italy - "we must go back at least to the Late Oligocene (29-24 million years) where a continuum of land connected the Dinarides and Rhodopes , allowing colonization by this phyletic lineage. Conversely, a paleogeographic event that could be placed at the origins of the separation of Paralovricia (in the Rhodopes) from a common ancestor - which then enabled a further differentiation of Lovricia and Neolovricia in the Dinarides - may be identified in the Early Miocene (20.5-19 Ma) when a strip of lowlands, covered with freshwater lakes and marshes seems to have divided the Dinarides from the Rhodopes."

Explore further: Birds 'weigh' peanuts and choose heavier ones

More information: Giachino P, Gueorguiev B, Vailati D (2011) A new remarkable subterranean beetle of the Rhodopes: Paralovricia n. gen. beroni n. sp. belonging to Lovriciina new subtribe (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Trechinae: Bembidiini). ZooKeys 117: 59-72. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.117.1612

Related Stories

New endemic beetles discovered in Iberian Peninsula

May 31, 2011

A European research team, with Spanish participation, has described two new beetle species measuring two millimetres in length. The coleoptera (beetles) were found in streams in the Pyrenees and Pre-Pyrenees ...

Dung beetle named after Darwin

Sep 22, 2009

A dung beetle from Costa Rica has been named after Charles Darwin and the Darwin Initiative. It was discovered during a Natural History Museum led expedition.

Recommended for you

Birds 'weigh' peanuts and choose heavier ones

May 23, 2015

Many animals feed on seeds, acorns or nuts. The common feature of these are that they have shells and there is no direct way to know what's inside. How do the animals know how much and what quality of food ...

Estuaries protect Dungeness crabs from deadly parasites

May 22, 2015

Parasitic worms can pose a serious threat to the Dungeness crab, a commercially important fishery species found along the west coast of North America. The worms are thought to have caused or contributed to ...

Our bond with dogs may go back more than 27,000 years

May 21, 2015

Dogs' special relationship to humans may go back 27,000 to 40,000 years, according to genomic analysis of an ancient Taimyr wolf bone reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 21. Earlier genome ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.