Underground life

Underground life

Adaptation to lightless environments gives rise to odd-looking fauna and unexpected resources

MARIA GUIMARÃES | ED. 224 | OCTOBER 2014

Padre Grotto in Bahia: 16 kilometers of rich, unexplored diversity

© LÉO RAMOS

Padre Grotto in Bahia: 16 kilometers of rich, unexplored diversity

Crouching at the water’s edge or right in it, researchers from the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), in Minas Gerais, search for one-half-centimeter-long invertebrates that resemble white shrimp. They scarcely notice the pilgrims filling plastic bottles with water—famed for its miraculous properties—and shouting “hallelujah” in praise of this small grotto in the municipality of Bom Jesus da Lapa in southwest Bahia. This is the very same water where these invertebrates survive amidst rusty cans and old batteries. Despite the bustle of human activity, the organisms that live here are still undergoing description, by a group headed by biologist Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira. Read more.