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October 23, 2012
This species of remipede, Pleomothra fragilis, newly described in 1989, was found in Oven Rock Cave in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas. Remipedes are a primitive class of crustacean believed to be one of the oldest crustacean groups on Earth, possibly dating back 200 million years to the time of the dinosaurs. Remipedes look similar to centipedes and have hollow-tip fangs for injecting venom. They are hermaphrodites. This picture was taken by Thomas Iliffe, a professor of marine biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Iliffe was awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation in 2003 to study anchialine caves in the Bahamas (grant DEB-0315903). Anchialine (a Greek word meaning "near the sea") caves are coastal and form in limestone or volcanic rock. They flood with seawater and include the longest submerged caves on Earth. Many previously unknown species of higher taxa live in these caves. Most do not have eyes or pigment since they live in perpetual darkness. Credit: Thomas M. Iliffe, Texas A&M University at Galveston