Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered for the first time a Portuguese beetle that spends its entire life in groundwater.
Researchers found a single female specimen of the new species living in a cave in Portugal. The beetle's unique classification was made apparent by its "unambiguous morphology in combination with molecular data."
Researchers Ignacio Ribera of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Spain and Ana Sofia P. S. Reboleira of the University of Copenhagen named the newly discovered beetle Iberoporus pluto, an homage to the ruler of the underworld in classical Greek mythology.
"Despite multiple visits to the same cave no additional specimens have been found, so we describe here the species on the basis of its morphological singularity," the pair wrote in their paper on the new species, published this week in the journal ZooKeys.
Like other underground species, the diving beetle has lost most of its pigmentation and eyesight. It is pale yellowish orange in color and is totally blind.
According to the scientific description of the new species, the unique subterranean beetle is larger and wider than other underground species of the same genus. The diving beetle also boasts more slender appendages.
In followup surveys of the cave, scientists hope to find additional specimens, including males, juveniles and larvae, so to better understand the evolutionary origins of the unique lineage.