We think we know everything about our planet, however, there are still unexplored lands. What’s even more interesting is that our world is made up of 71% water, meaning there are plenty of things and creatures lurking on the ocean floor, just waiting to be discovered or possibly hiding from us.
One such creature was recently discovered, named Artemia Salina, an ancient shrimp that has been around for about 100 million years. Artemia salina is a species of brine shrimp – aquatic crustaceans more closely related to Triops and cladocerans than to true shrimp. It belongs to a lineage that hasn’t changed much in 100 million years. A. salina is native to temporary (non-sea) lakes, ponds, and saline waters in the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe, Anatolia, and North Africa. Several populations elsewhere were formerly known as this species, but are now recognized as separate, including A. franciscana of the Americas. That species has been widely introduced to places outside its native range, including the Mediterranean region, where it is locally outnumbered by native A. salina. This happened in parts of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Morocco.
One of the most fascinating things about Artemia salina is their ability to survive in environments that are ᴛᴏxɪᴄ to most other living things. They are able to tolerate high levels of salinity, as well as extreme temperatures and pH levels. This makes them an important model organism for studying the effects of environmental stress on living organisms.
Artemia salina are also known for their ability to enter a state of suspended animation called cryptobiosis. When conditions become too harsh, these creatures can shut down their metabolic processes and essentially go into hibernation. In this state, they can survive for extended periods of time without food, water, or oxygen. When conditions improve, they can rehydrate and resume normal activity.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Artemia salina is their longevity. While the lifespan of most brine shrimp is only a few months, some individuals have been known to live for centuries. In fact, a study published in the journal “Nature” in 1996 reported the discovery of Artemia salina cysts that were over 10,000 years old. These cysts, which are essentially dormant eggs, had been buried in sediment at the bottom of a lake in Canada.
The discovery of these ancient cysts was significant for several reasons. First, it demonstrated the incredible resilience of these creatures and their ability to survive for incredibly long periods of time. Second, it provided researchers with an opportunity to study the genetic makeup of Artemia salina from different time periods and compare them to modern populations. This could provide valuable insights into how these creatures have adapted to changing environments over time.
In addition to their scientific significance, Artemia salina also play an important role in the food chain of many aquatic ecosystems. They are an important source of food for fish and other aquatic creatures, and their cysts are often used as a source of nutrition for aquaculture operations.
Overall, Artemia salina are fascinating creatures that have captured the attention of scientists and nature enthusiasts alike. Their ability to survive in extreme conditions and their incredible longevity make them a valuable model organism for studying environmental stress and adaptation. Whether you are a biologist, an aquaculturist, or simply a curious observer of nature, Artemia salina are certainly creatures worth learning more about.