Researchers have discovered a new species of swimming cricket, a cave catfish and a no-eyed harvestman from a cave in Venezuela.

The creatures were found in a remote Venezuelan tepui, a type of table-top mountain in the region by Italian researchers. A team of BBC producers filmed the creatures for a new television programme, the ‘BBC Nature’ reported.

The “unbelievable” swimming cricket was captured on camera along with a no-eyed harvestman and a cave catfish.

“[It’s] the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen,” biologist and presenter George McGavin was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Describing the swimming cricket, McGavin said, “It swims underwater and uses its front legs as a proper breaststroke and its hind legs kicking out. It was just amazing.”

“We’ve only named about a million species of insects and there are almost certainly five to eight million undescribed,” McGavin said.

The Italian researchers from La Venta, had noted the presence of an unusual looking catfish near the caves for the first time.

With a pale colour and only remnants of eyes, its pitch black habitat seemed to have negated any need for visual communication or sight. The fish navigated using large sensitive organs on the front of its head.

It is thought that millions of years ago the catfish’s ancestors must have lived in water on the plain from which the cave was formed.

“What was originally a catfish perhaps in a lake, suddenly becomes an isolated catfish in these hidden underground areas,” McGavin said.

A harvestman which McGavin believes was new to science has been discovered.

“(It) was just such a weird animal and I haven’t seen a picture or a drawing of anything that looks even vaguely similar, so I’m reckoning that it is undescribed,” he said.

Harvestmen are arachnids, the same order as spiders and scorpions but this one was unusual as it did not react to McGavin’s torchlight.

The three creatures have not yet been formally described but filmmakers believe that they are new species.

(This article was published on August 5, 2012)
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