Researchers discover new species inside Texas cavern

An educational exhibit showcasing researchers’ findings is scheduled to open in 2023

Natural Bridge Caverns uncovers new cave species. (Natural Bridge Caverns)

SAN ANTONIO – A biological inventory of Natural Bridge Caverns (San Antonio, TX) conducted by Zara Environmental that began earlier this year revealed a number of new species.

Researchers found Chinquipellobunus madlae, an orange cave-adapted, spider-looking creature, according to Natural Bridge Caverns. Hundreds of different types of snails were collected and sent to Dr. Kathryn Perez, an aquatic snails expert at UT Rio Grande Valley.

Two other organisms uncovered were groundwater crustaceans, a circolanid isopod, and an amphipod. Both are small shrimp-like creatures without eyes, according to Natural Bridge Caverns.

Natural Bridge Caverns (Natural Bridge Caverns)

On Aug. 6, another Natural Bridge Caverns biological survey expedition will take place. It will be focused on a continuation of developing a better understanding of the unique ecosystem that makes up the caverns.

New species discovered at Natural Bridge Caverns. (Natural Bridge Caverns)

Natural Bridge Caverns plans to showcase these new species found in the cavern system in an exhibit opening in 2023.

“Our guests are fascinated by the adaptations necessary for animals of all types to live in a cave,” said Brad Wuest, president of Natural Bridge Caverns.

Natural Bridge Caverns research new species. (Natural Bridge Caverns)

“As stewards of this cavern system, we know the more we understand about the species that inhabit the cave, the better we’re able to track our efforts in safeguarding the environment around it,” he added.

About the Author:

Emily Schmalstieg is a Digital Producer trainee for KSAT 12. She has written and photographed for several magazines and newspapers, including San Antonio Magazine, Austin Monthly and the San Antonio Current. A proud San Antonio native and graduate of Southwestern University in Georgetown, she is now completing her M.A. at UTSA.