Scientists at Holar University College and the University of Iceland have discovered two species of groundwater amphipods (one of which is in its own family). These are currently the only species known to be endemic to Iceland.
Bjarni K. Kristjánsson, the scientist who found the two species, believes that their presence in Iceland can only be explained if they are leftovers from the last ice age.
From the EurekAlert article:
“Groundwater amphipods are poor at dispersal, and can not be transported with birds or humans,” says Jörundur Svavarsson. One of these new species falls within a new family of amphipods, which indicates that the species has been a long time in Iceland. “The time since the end of the last glaciation is not enough for a family to evolve,” says Svavarsson. Kristjansson and Svavarsson find it likely that the amphipod came to Iceland as early as 30-40 million years ago, when the volcanic island was being formed. “If our theory is right, we have discovered the oldest inhabitants of Iceland, and that can help us further understand how Iceland was formed,” says Kristjansson.
Full article at EurekAlert!
Image credit: Thorkell Heidarsson