Scientists surveying rock piles and caves in the Yosemite Valley found a new species of pseudoscorpion about the size of a human fingernail. It has no stinger, and no eyes. “Pseudoscorpions are one of the great things to find in caves because they are at the top of the food chain in a cave. It is like finding a lion out on the savannah in Africa,” said biologist Jean Krejca.
Yosemite Valley was formed by glacial erosion, as huge masses of ice moved breaking down the mountain granite. Rock slides and falls have left piles near the valley’s three thousand foot walls and this is where the pseudoscorpion lives. It was given the name Yosemite Cave Pseudoscorpion (Parobisium yosemite). It was found in two talus caves, which are essentially holes between the huge boulders and rocks that have fallen from high above the valley floor. Some of the boulders are over twenty feet high, and covered with other rocks.
The Yosemite pseudoscorpion is completely harmless to humans, and preys upon tiny insects like mites, ants, and spiders. “We are thrilled about the new discovery of this fascinating species. Yosemite National Park is one of the great laboratories of the natural world and finds like this are incredibly exciting. We will continue to study the pseudoscorpion, as well as look for other new species of flora and fauna,” said Niki Nicholas, a Yosemite resources management director. (Source: NPS.gov)
The location of the pseudoscorpions’ caves is not being disclosed to protect them from tourists who might step on them or degrade their tiny habitats. There are now sixteen known pseudoscorpion species in the world. Most of the other species live in Asian countries. Pseudoscorpions are troglobites – small cave-dwelling animals adapted to dark environments.
Biologists James Cokendolpher from Texas Tech University and Jean Krejca will continue conducting their study of the tiny creatures.
Image Credit: Jean Krejca