It gives a whole new meaning to “going under”.
Just when you thought you’d seen it all, scientists in eastern Turkey have identified new creatures that may have lived there for three million years.
Two new species of mole, Talpa hakkariensis and Talpa davidiana tatvanensis, live in the mountains of eastern Turkey in Bitlis.
Scientists say the new moles can survive in temperatures as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and less than six feet of snow in the winter. The discovery is particularly exciting because it is rare to find new species of mammals.
The study, published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society in July was conducted by researchers from Ondokuz Mayıs University in Turkey, Indiana University and the University of Plymouth, England.
“It’s very rare these days to find new species of mammals,” said lead author David Bilton, professor of aquatic biology at the University of Plymouth. “Only about 6,500 species of mammals have been identified worldwide, and by comparison about 400,000 species of beetles are known, of which there are an estimated 1 to 2 million on Earth.”
“On the surface, the new moles we identified in this study appear to resemble other species, as living underground imposes significant limitations on body size and shape evolution – there are really only a limited number of options.” for moles,” Bilton noted.
After discovering the moles, researchers used “state-of-the-art DNA technology” to compare their DNA to that of other moles and found that the Turkish creatures are biologically distinct.
The study’s authors say the new moles are “subterranean invertebrate mammals” found throughout Europe and western Asia. They said the discovery shows that mammalian diversity can be misunderstood.
“Our study shows how, under such circumstances, we can underestimate the true nature of biodiversity,” Bilton said, “even in groups like mammals, where most people would assume we know all the species we share the planet with.” “