From The Portugal News:
Portuguese biologist makes insect discovery in Algarve
Europe’s largest underground insect was discovered in caves in the Algarve by Portuguese biologist Ana Sofia Reboleira, increasing the number of newly discovered species in Portugal to seven.
Commonly known as ‘silver fish’ or ‘book worms’, the insect’s scientific name is Squamatinia algharbica. According to biologist Sofia Reboleira, “it is the largest underground insect in Europe and the second largest bristletail in the world.”
Being three centimetres long, without eyes, uncoloured and possessing feelers like antennae “that are extremely developed”, the insect is a new species “that lives solely in caves in the Algarve, developing its life cycle underground and not being able to survive outside,” said the biologist.
According to Sofia Reboleira, it is a “bio-geographical relic that survived various episodes of climate change, taking refuge underground” and inhabits the same cave systems where she discovered a giant pseudoscorpion in 2010.
The insect was recently described in the scientific journal ‘Zootaxa’ by entomologist Luís Mendes from the Institute of Scientific and Tropical Investigation.
The discovery was made during research for Ana Sofia Reboleira’s doctorate at the Department of Biology and Centre for Environment and Sea studies at Aveiro University, overseen by professors Fernando Gonçalves from the biology department and Pedro Oromi from the University of Iaguna in Spain.
This new discovery brings the number of new species up to seven described by Ana Reboleira, who has contributed to Portugal’s biological heritage and highlighted … the importance of these species, “which are at risk due to a lack of specific measures to protect underground habitats.”