Thursday, 11 February 2010

Another Unknown Unknown

I didn't realise this wasn't known!
I just assumed that the relationship between insects and the rest of the arthropods was well understood, but there you go.

One of the things that makes it really hard to tease out the actual relationships is that so many of the arthropods seem to share lots of characters, but in fact many of these have evolved independently.

For example, for a long time scientists believed that insects were closely related to centipedes and millipedes. Along with their anatomical similarities, these two groups are also both mainly land-dwellers.
Now with an enormous DNA analysis, they've discovered that this most beautiful beastie, a blind cave-dweller from the Bahamas, is one of the group most closely related to insects. Read the story on Carl Zimmer's page in the Discover magazine blog.

There is just one detail in which I'm completely convinced Zimmer is totally wrong:
It lives only in the pitch-black, oxygen-free waters at the bottom of deep caves in the Bahamas
The bold font is mine. I'm pretty sure an anaerobic arthropod would be a world first and would have made front-page headlines! I reckon he accidentally left out a critical 'almost'.

No comments: