Mangkurtu mityula

Collection Highlights | Updated 3 years ago

A tiny, translucent shelled animal
Mangkurtu mityula
Photo by Bill Humphreys

This three millimetre long crustacean inhabits subterranean waters and was collected from boreholes in lake limestones near Millstream, Fortescue River valley, Pilbara.

Mangkurtu mityula is the third species discovered of the crustacean order Spelaegriphacea (no common name) that was described in 1957 from a species, Spelaeogriphus lepidops, collected from a sandstone cave stream on top of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa.

A second species, Potiicoara brasiliensis, was described from a limestone cave in Mato Grosso, western Brazil, South America, in 1987.

With the discovery of Mangkurtu kutjarra, also from groundwater in lake limestone in the upper Fortescue River in 2003, the entire order is now known from only four species.

The distribution indicates that the order was distributed widely on the Gondwana supercontinent and became dispersed, starting about 150 million years ago, on the fragments of Gondwana (South America, Africa, India, Australia, Antarctica, Madagascar) as they moved by plate tectonics. Spelaeogriphacea may be expected to be discovered in India.

Subterranean Biology Collection