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New life forms discovered in Yucatan caves

Scientists studying the Ox Bel Ha cave system, located on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, have uncovered new, previously unknown life forms in the system. From the observations they have made, it appears that the newly discovered organisms have adapted to life in the caves and are concentrating near methane. Based on this discovery, researchers at Texas
Published: December 12, 2017 - 07:45
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 16:07
New life forms discovered in Yucatan caves

Scientists studying the Ox Bel Ha cave system, located on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, have uncovered new, previously unknown life forms in the system. From the observations they have made, it appears that the newly discovered organisms have adapted to life in the caves and are concentrating near methane.

Based on this discovery, researchers at Texas A&M University have hypothesised that other cave systems around the world are most likely home to organisms similar to those discovered in Ox Bel Ha.

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Bil Phillips Ox Bel Ha

David Brankovits, a student from Budapest, led the research conducted as part of his PhD studies at A&M University. He was supported by an international team that included scientists from Mexico, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. They published the result of their work in Nature Communications.

The main focus of the research was the Ox Bel Ha system, especially those places where we encounter the halocline phenomenon, caused by the mixing of fresh and salt water. It turns out that methane in such places is an important nutrient for small life forms, such as bacteria and microbes, which form the basic ecosystem.

Summarising the results of their work, the researchers said that the data obtained, and the results of their observations, will allow them to better understand isolated underwater ecosystems around the world.

Interestingly, it turned out that not only bacteria and microbes feed on methane. Even a species of shrimp was observed, which obtained as much as 21% of its food from this gas.

Source: futurity.org, Photo: Texas A&M University

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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