Dr. Hossein Rajaei from the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History and Dr. Alexander V Rudov from Tehran University have discovered new species of freshwater Crustacea during an expedition of the desert Lut, known as the hottest place on Earth. The species belongs to the genus Phallocryptus.
The expedition aimed to understand better the desert’s ecology, biodiversity, geomorphology, and paleontology. Scientists found the species in a small seasonal lake in the southern part of the desert says the discovery is “sensational.”
The biologists name the new species Phallocryptus fahimii, in honor of the Iranian conservation biologist, Hadi Fahimi, who took part in the 2017 expedition.
The Lut desert – also known as the Dasht-e Lut – is the second largest desert in Iran. Located between 33° and 28° parallels and with its 51,800 km2 larger than Switzerland, this desert holds the current record for the highest ever-recorded surface temperature.
Dr. Rajaei, an entomologist from State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart, said, “During an expedition to such an extreme place you are always on alert, in particular when finding water. Discovering crustaceans in this otherwise hot and dry environment was sensational.”
Dr. Schwentner, who has worked with similar crustaceans from the Australian deserts in the past, adds: “These Crustaceans can survive for decades in the dried-out sediment and will hatch in an upcoming wet season when the aquatic habitat refills. They are perfectly adapted to live in desert environments. Their ability to survive even in the Lut desert highlights their resilience.”
Martin Schwentner et al. Some like it hot: Phallocryptus fahimii sp. n. (Crustacea: Anostraca: Thamnocephalidae) from the Lut desert, the hottest place on Earth. DOI: 10.1080/09397140.2020.1805139