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Nature Blind Cave Crayfish

 

Blind Cave Crayfish is New to Science

Something exciting happened in the Caney Mountain Conservation Area in Ozark County on August 16, 1999.
Cave biologists exploring a muddy stream in one of the caves found a brand new species of blind crayfish.

 

 
Blind Cave Crayfish The scientists were excited for two reasons. For one thing, finding a species brand new to science is always a thrill. It was even more exciting because this particular kind of blind crayfish has never before been found west of the Mississippi River. The discovery brings to 39 the number of cave crayfish species in North America. Before this, there were only two known species of cave crayfish in Missouri. 
Some cave species are older than the caves they live in, and the caves may be millions of years old. 
These paw prints are from a prehistoric cave bear.
Meet another cave creature:
a Northern Long-eared Bat.
Cave Scientists

The small cave where the crayfish species was found has a muddy floor that slopes downhill to water. The stream floor is knee-deep in mud. 

Cave scientists have a job that often means they get covered in mud or else very wet. They see things most people never do, though, which makes up for some of the hazards of their job. 

Bill Elliot Bill Elliot, the Missouri Department of Conservation's first cave biologist, takes measurements in the cave. He was one of the scientists who discovered the new crayfish species. 
Horton Hobbs Horton Hobbs is a leading expert in crayfish from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. He is the one who verified that the crayfish is a new species. 
Toby Dogwiler is a cave scientist from the University of Missouri. He explores caves in this area too. 
Only scientists will be able to see these crayfish, to protect them from harm. For conservation reasons, the cave name will not be announced to the public. Access will be restricted for scientific studies. Fortunately, the cave is in a protected area, far from any development or known pollution sources. 

More on Caves

Exploring a Wild Cave
Includes a cave map with photos inside the cave.

Links:

Missouri Cave Life

A New Missouri Cave Crayfish

Links open in new window

 
  Sources: Information from Bill Elliot, Horton Hobbs and Toby Dogwiler, also the Journal of Cave and Karst Studies,December 1999, and Missouri Conservationist, December 1999.

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