Gastrotrichs are a phylum of minute animals, generally less than a millimetre in length, found in interstitial spaces in sediments (a phylum is the highest classification of organisms below that of kingdom; other animal phyla include Molluscs and Arthropods, the Vertebrates only have the status of a subphylum within the Phylum Chordata, which also includes animals such as Sea Squirts and Lancets). Their small size meant that they went unnoticed until the event of microscopy, with the group not being discovered until the 1860s.These animals appear to be almost ubiquitous in marine and freshwater ecosystems, as well as semi-terrestrial ecosystems such as bogs and swamps. However they have been studied better in some areas than others; the group has been best studied in Europe, with about 225 freshwater and 100 marine species known; but of those 100 freshwater and 35 marine species come from Poland, with no species at all described from Portugal, The Netherlands or any Balkan country other than Romania.
In a paper published in the European Journal of Taxonomy on 28 September 2017, Małgorzata Kolicka of the Department of Animal Taxonomy and Ecology at Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan, Piotr Gadawski of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Hydrobiology at the University of Łódź, and Miroslawa Dabert of the Molecular Biology Techniques Laboratory at Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan, describe a new species of Gastrotricj from the Obodska Cave in southern Montenegro.
The Obodska Cave is a limestone cave beneath Pecki Hill, through which the River Crnojevica flows, and which also contains a natural spring. The cave is 350 m in length, with five levels in three compartments connected by two siphons. The presence of the spring and river creates a humid microclimate within the cave.
The new species is placed in the genus Chaetonotus, and given the specific name antrumus, which derives from 'antrum', the Latin word for 'cave'. It has a slender body 91.2 to 129.7 μm in length with a five-lobed head separated from the body by a distinct neck.
Chaetonotus antrumus, schematic drawings. (A) Dorsal body view. (B) Internal body view. (C) Ventral body view. Kolicka et al. (2017).
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