A new species of shrimp has been discovered in Australia, but don’t get your hopes up–it wouldn’t work well on a sandwich. It is actually a tiny fairy shrimp that only emerges briefly in vernal (seasonal) pools. Professor Brian Timms discovered it near Boulia, in the area of Mount Isa in Queensland. Professor Timms discovered this particular fairy shrimp species after very hard rains. Fairy shrimp have extremely tough eggs that are drought and heat resistant. The eggs have been exposed to temperatures over 99 degrees Celsius and below 190 degrees C, and have remained intact.
They can remain dormant and viable in dried mud for years, just waiting for the next hard rains or floods to hatch. Then they begin their life cycle, mate and produce more eggs which repeats the process. Their life cycle can be completed in 16 days.
Timms said, “Fairy shrimps are primitive crustaceans that live in temporary waters–they are only there for a few weeks. “They filter feed the algae, they lay resistant eggs which then sit in the bottom mud for years and years until the next rain comes.” (Source: abc.net.au)
Last year in Scotland some vernal pool shrimp were discovered that could be the oldest living species on Earth, at nearly 300 million years of age.
You may have heard about vernal pool habitats, and wondered why they are significant, but the answer is clear. They are habitats for unique species that can’t live anywhere else. So replacing them with a parking lot is not a good choice, though some developers believe otherwise.
Image Credit: University of NSW