A new species of worm which has eyes in its head and also in its bottom has been discovered in the sea off Scotland.
Scientists found the animal during a survey of the West Shetland Shelf Marine Protected Area.
Measuring only 4mm (0.2in) in length, it was discovered in a previously unexplored part of the seabed of the large protected area.
The worm has been given the scientific name Ampharete oculicirrata.
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Marine Scotland Science and Thomson Environmental Consultants carried out the survey.
The worm collected during the survey is now in the collections of National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh.
Jessica Taylor, of JNCC, said: "The fact that it was found in relatively shallow depths, relatively close to the Scottish coastline, shows just how much more there is to understand about the creatures that live in our waters."
"I'm excited about future JNCC and Marine Scotland surveys and what they may reveal. And it's great that specimens of the new species have been acquired by National Museums Scotland and are available for future studies."
Researchers at The University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Museum have discovered 56 new species of arachnids, known as schizomids, in Western Australia's Pilbara region.The research, published inMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, found all the new species, apart from one surface-dwelling species in Karijini National Park, live their entire lives underground—which makes them difficult to collect.
Lead researcher Dr. Kym Abrams, from UWA's School of Biological Sciences, said although the research team had not yet formally named the new species, they were able to use DNA sequences and physical characteristics to determine that there were at least 56 new species from WA alone.
"The current known named Australian fauna is 53 species so we have just doubled this number," Dr. Abrams said. "Worldwide there are approximately 350 species known so once we've described these new species, Australia will have around one third of the known schizomid fauna."
The arachnids are also called "whip-sprickets" because of their whip-like, long front legs which they use almost like a cane. They have no eyes so they tap around their environment with their extra-long antenna-like legs, and the spricket part comes from them looking like a cross between a spider and a cricket, according to Dr. Abrams.
"We think there are likely to be a lot more species out there because they have such small distributions, they are poor dispersers and we've only been able to sample a few places; most of these have been collected during environmental impact assessment surveys in mining tenements or through scientific research," she said.
Dr. Abrams said WA was already globally recognized as a hotspot for subterranean fauna with an estimated 4000 species.
"This discovery of multiple new species of schizomids reinforces how unique and highly diverse the fauna is," she said. "Currently there are 10 species of schizomid on the WA threatened fauna list (listed as vulnerable or endangered) because they live in habitats that are vulnerable to disturbance and destruction from habitat loss.
"Having said this, mining companies follow a range of protocols to manage their sites to preserve some habitat and they conduct monitoring surveys to ensure that the animals are still surviving in their tenements. Preserving habitat is important because subterranean schizomids are so well-adapted to dark, humid environments that they can't survive on the surface and so can't move to new habitat if their current habitat is destroyed."
In 1995, co-researchers Dr. Mark Harvey and Dr. Bill Humphreys, from the WA Museum named the species from Barrow Island Draculoides bramstokeri after Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, because they are found in caves and have extra processes on their "fangs."
Courtesy of the University of Western Australia via Phys.Org
In the forest undergrowth of northern Corsica, two wildlife rangers open a cage to reveal a striped, tawny-coated animal, one of 16 felines known as "cat-foxes" in the area and thought to be a new species.
"We believe that it's a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it's an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits," says Pierre Benedetti, chief environmental technician of the National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS).
"It's a wonderful discovery," he tells AFP, holding the feline—called "Ghjattu volpe" in Corsican—found in Asco forest on the French Mediterranean island.
While resembling a domestic cat in some ways, the ring-tailed feline measures 90 centimetres (35 inches) from head to tail, has "very wide" ears, short whiskers and "highly developed" canine teeth.
Other distinguishing features include the stripes on the front legs, "very dark" hind legs and a russet stomach. The dense, silky coat is a natural repellent for fleas, ticks and lice.
The tail usually has two to four rings and a black tip.
"It's their size and their tail that earned them the name 'cat-fox' across the island," says Benedetti.
The animals are found in a remote habitat where there is "water and plant cover offering protection against its main predator, the golden eagle," says Carlu-Antone Cecchini, ONCFS field agent in charge of forest cats.
Using nonviolent methods, the ONCFS has since 2016 captured 12 of 16 felines seen in the area, releasing them again after a quick examination.
Now, they say, they hope to have "this cat recognised and protected" within two to four years.
Legend has it
"The cat-fox is part of our shepherd mythology. From generation to generation, they told stories of how the forest cats would attack the udders of their ewes and goats," says Cecchini.
After years of playing cat and mouse, one of the animals "was caught unexpectedly in 2008 in a chicken coop at Olcani in Cap Corse," says Benedetti, who has been researching the species for more than 10 years.
Research got under way and, in 2012, with the help of a method involving essence attractive to cats and a wooden stick which they rub against leaving traces of their fur, they were able to determine its genetic make-up.
"By looking at its DNA, we could tell it apart from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris. It's close to the African forest cat, Felis silvestris lybica, but its exact identity is still to be determined," Benedetti adds.
With advanced photographic and later physical traps, the researchers captured their first "cat-fox" in 2016.
There are still many mysteries surrounding the cat.
Its diet and reproductive patterns are yet to be studied but Benedetti has a theory that the cat could have been brought to Corsica by farmers 6,500 years BC.
"If the hypothesis is true, its origins are Middle Eastern," he says.
The identification chip in the neck of the animal being shown to AFP helps reveal that it is a male of between four and six years old, already caught a few times before and has a damaged eye caused by a fight with another male.
After examination, the cat with one green eye and one brown eye is free to go, leaving behind its GPS collar with 80 days' data.