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850 new species discovered in Australia

world Updated: Sep 28, 2009 11:41 IST

A team of scientists here have discovered 850 new species of animals in the underground water and caves of the Australian Outback.

The species of invertebrates like spiders, insects, and worms came to light during a four-year long suvey led by scientists from University of Adelaide in the underground water sources, dark caves and micro-caverns in the remote arid lands of Australia.

So far scientists have named only half of the species discovered. However, the species found in underground water are given generic name of "stygofauna" and those from caves and micro-caverns are known as "troglofauna".

"It is a huge discovery and it is only about one fifth of the number of new species we believe exist underground in the Australian outback," Professor Andy Austin from Australian Center for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity at the University said.

Presenting findings during a scientific conference in Darwin, Austin said central and south Australia were wet lands 15 million years ago.

But as the climate changed to arid lands about one-two million years back, these species took refuge in underground water sources, caves and other such wet and dark places where they flourished.