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Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Crustacea
Class Eumalacostraca
Order Isopoda
Family Cirolanidae

Haptolana bowmani Botosaneanu & Iliffe, 1997

Taxonomic Characterization:
Stygomorphic - completely depigmented, anophthalmous, devoid of coarse cuticular ornamentation and unable to roll into a ball. Body rather slender. Cephalon (with its rostrum) having the shape of a helmet, wider than long, lateral margins convex but posteriorly suddenly oblique towards median line and slightly depressed (also posterior margin depressed). Rostrum narrowly triangular. Lamina frontalis not pentagonal but anteriorly globose. Pereiopods slender, increasing in length posteriorly. On most of their articles, abundant spines diverging in V-shapes; very long and slender dactily swinging between these spines. Telson elongated, not subtruncate, posterior margin with few spines (Botosaneanu & Iliffe, 1997).

Ecological Classification: Stygobitic

Size: Length of adult male holotype: ca 7.5 mm; adult female allotype: ca 9.5 mm.

Number of Species in Genus: Six

Genus Range:

  • Australia: Haptolana pholeta Bruce & Humphreys, 1993
  • Belize: Haptolana belizana Botosaneanu & Iliffe, 1997
  • Cuba: Haptolana trichostoma Bowman, 1966
  • Somalia: Haptolana somala Messana & Chelazzi, 1984
  • Yucatan Peninsula:
    • Haptolana bowmani Botosaneanu & Iliffe, 1997
    • Haptolana yunca Botosaneanu & Iliffe, 2000

Species Range: Known from four cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. These cenotes include Grutas de Tzab-Nah, Cenote Kambul, Cenote Mucuyche and Cenote Yuncu.

Closest Related Species: Many characteristics of H. bowmani resemble H. belizana from Belize.

Habitat: Freshwater limestone caves

Ecology: Specimens were collected in 50 cm depths from an old wooden board and along walls. In Grutas de Tzab-Nah, the type locality, the cave varies in bottom composition and water quality. While some pools in the cave have sandy bottoms and clear water, several other pools are murky and have a think layer of scum on the surface. This pollution consists of liquid wastes from a henequen processing plant located above the cave. Associated fauna include: mysids, amphipods, atyid shrimp, palaemonid shrimp, brotulid fish, blind eels, copepods, podocopid ostracods, cirolanid isopods, and thermosbaenaceans (Botosaneanu & Iliffe, 1997).

Life History: The six specimens collected include one adult male, one adult female and 4 immature specimens. The single female caught did not have oostegites.

Evolutionary Origins: The genus Haptolana has a widely disjunct distribution with species known from Australia, Somalia and the Caribbean. It is considered to be a Tethyan relict having its origins in the Tethys Sea - the shallow tropical sea that formed between the supercontinents of Gondwana (in the South) and Laurasia (in the North), during the Triassic period about 200 million years ago and later. It is believed that cave colonization took place relatively early on and that dispersal occurred through plate tectonic rafting (Humphreys, 1993).

Conservation Status: Restricted to four cenotes in the state of Yucatan.


  • Botosaneanu, L. and T.M. Iliffe. 1997. Four new stygobitic cirolanids (Crustacea: Isopoda) from the Caribbean - with remarks on intergeneric limits on some cirolanids. Bulletin de L'Institute Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, Biologie, 67:77-94, 108 figures.
  • Humphreys, W.F. 1993. Stygofauna in semi-arid tropical Western Australia: a Tethyan connection. Mémoires de Biospéologie, 20:111-116.


Contributor: Lazare Botosaneanu, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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