On Tsushima Island in Japan, plenty of flora and fauna is all around. Tsushima Island is located in Nagasaki Prefecture and marks the northern border of the Kyushu region. It is only 44 miles long from top to bottom and has a surface of 273.6 square miles. The island is overflowing with natural beauty, like deciduous trees such as evergreen broadleaf trees, conifers, and cypresses. Among the beauty and wildlife lives a very tiny, blue, six-eyed creature discovered accidentally.
The Discovery: Paranura tsushimaensis
The tiny, blue, six-eyed being was found by scientists searching for collembola, also known as springtails. Springtails are part of nature’s cleanup crew. They work tirelessly eating decaying vegetable matter, such as dead roots and leaves, fungi, pollen, algae, rotting wood, and any other decaying organic matter like dead insects. The blue, six-eyed creature was found crawling across decaying matter on a tree branch.
The Paranura tsushimaensis is an approximately .06 – .07 inch long animal and has a bright blue body and six black eyes on its head. It also comes equipped with a “tail” that it uses to propel itself through the air several inches at a time.
The Others: P. nakamurai, P. alpicola and P. convallis
Along with the Paranura tsushimaensis, the scientists also discovered three other species of Paranura; P. nakamurai, P. alpicola, and P. convallis. The springtails are all similar, but none are blue like the tiny, blue, six-eyed tsushimaensis. They were all discovered feasting on rotten branches in the Nagasaki, Nara, and Niigata provinces of Japan, scientists said.
The Paranura nakamurai is a minuscule creature with four eyes (No, they do not wear glasses) and is a yellowish-white creature. It ranges from .03 – .06 inches long. The creature, found on Sado Island in the Niigata province of Japan is unique. The springtails’ namesake is the researcher and scientist Kahito Nakamura, who found the little beings.
The Paranura alpicola, named for its alpine habitat, was discovered on Mount Syakagatake in the Nara province. This springtail is a plump yellow creature with six eyes. It measures between .05 – .08 inches long.
The Paranura convallis is a plump, orange creature with six eyes and measures between .06 – .09 inches long. They were discovered in the Nara province and were named for their mountain valley habitat.
Fun Facts About Springtails
- Springtails have a furcula, the forked appendage under the abdomen held in place with a clasp-like structure known as a tenaculum. This is how they can jump up to 8 inches into the air.
- They are excellent to keep in terrariums.
- Springtails are mostly active in the afternoon and evening.
- They come in a wide array of colors. Some are bright and almost neon.
- Springtails are often in mulch, leaf litter, compost bins, and under decaying wood or bark.
- They are longer than they are wide.
- If the living space for springtails dries out, they will die. They can only live in moist environments.
- Springtails continue molting even after they have reached maturity.
- Snow fleas (Hypogastrura nivicola) are a type of black springtail that stand out clearly on a snowy white background. They arrive in early spring when the ground begins to thaw.
- Springtails and fleas are very different animals. They can both jump, but hard-bodied fleas are flat, whereas springtails are squishy and do not bite.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ken Griffiths/iStock via Getty Images
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