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Barely any light penetrates to the bottom of the oceans - and even more seldom the human being, who in most cases can only take a look into this underworld with the help of deep-sea robots. In order to explore the seafloor, researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela collected samples in the Atlantic in a conventional way: they used special trawls to fish whatever was on the bottom - and discovered new species in the catch. Two tiny crustaceans from the families of the Photidae and Corophiidae entered the web in front of the Galician coast at a depth of 800 to 1000 meters. The researchers named them Photis guerrai - pictured - and Pareurystheus vitucoi. The two sea creatures measure a few millimeters in length and have no eyes - they are blind.

"This group of crustaceans is very important in the oceans because they are the starting point in the food chain in many marine ecosystems, " explains study leader and marine biologist Ramiro Tato. "As some of the most common adjustments at this depth, animal species lose their sight and are very small to better withstand the high pressure." Animals without eyes usually compensate for this with biochemical sensory receptors. Photis guerrai and Pareurystheus vitucoi are not the only discoveries off Galicia's Atlantic coast: "I've discovered ten more new species that I'm still working on, " says Ramiro Tato. The first two of them, the researchers in the journal Zootaxa has published.

Photo: José Antonio Peñas (SINC)

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