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Scientists Find 27 New Species in Caves



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
  • Science
    --Life Sciences
    --Physical Science
    ----Earth Science
    ----Environmental Science


Grades 2-up

News Content

Twenty-seven new cave creatures have been found in caves in California.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to share what they know about creatures that live in caves. Write on the board or a chart the information they share.

News Words

Write on a board or chart these Word Box words from the students' printable page:

species scorpion centipede
imagine unexplored liver
Then ask:
  • Which word is the name for a creature with many legs? (centipede)
  • Which word means "a place where humans have not gone"? (unexplored)
  • Which word is the name of an organ inside the bodies of animals and humans? (liver)
  • Which word means "to picture something in your mind"? (imagine)
  • Which word is the name for a creature with a poisonous bite? (scorpion)

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this week's news story Scientists Find 27 New Species in Caves.

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

* Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

* Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.

* Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

* Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

More Facts to Share

You might share these additional facts with students after they have read the news story.

  • Some of the new creatures were found throughout the caves; others were found in only one cave or a few caves.
  • It is rare for scientists to discover new species on land, but caves and the deep sea -- places that can be difficult to reach and seldom explored -- might be home to many new creatures.
  • Temperatures in the caves that scientists explored ranged from just above freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) to more than 60 degrees.
  • The caves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are protected by a cave management plan. As part of that plan, many of the caves have been mapped. Some caves can be visited by anyone at any time. Other caves, with rare and sensitive animals or mineralogical features, are closed to the public. A few caves are set aside for research and study.

Comprehension Check

  • How many new species did scientists discover? (27)
  • Where were the caves that scientists explored? (in California)
  • What kinds of species did scientists find? (spiders, centipedes, scorpion-like creatures, and others)
  • What kinds of things do scientists still hope to learn about the new creatures? (how long they live, what kinds of habitats they prefer, how the give birth to babies)

Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students' news page.

Follow-Up Activities

Language arts -- vocabulary. Cave creatures fall into three main categories. Write the category names on a board or chart:

  • trogloxenes (TRAH-glow-zeens) -- animals that sometimes live in caves
  • troglophiles -- animals that can be found in caves, but that also can live in other places
  • troglobites -- animals that only live in caves; they will not survive anyplace else Share with students that the prefix troglo means hole.
That makes sense, since these creatures live in caves. Print and cut out the pictures at Cave Residents and ask students to tell under which category they think each of the species might fall. It is likely that there will be different opinions; that's fine -- accept all reasoned responses from students.

Science. Invite students on a virtual tour of caves near the ones where 27 new creatures were recently found. Share the images in the Cave Photo Gallery. You'll find some nice additional pictures of species found in caves at Missouri Cave Life.

More critical thinking. How are caves different from the environment in which your students live? Create a 2-column chart and invite students to share their thoughts about how caves are different from their "habitat." Label the columns Caves and My Habitat. Students might complete a statement such as Where I live, _____, but in caves _____. For example: Where I live, many different kinds of trees and plants grow, but in caves there are no trees and plants because there is no light. See how many differences students can come up with. You might need to ask some leading questions to prompt younger students to "discover" some of the major differences, such as light/total darkness; noise/silence; seasons/fairly consistent temperatures; colorful insects/colorless (albino) insects; insects that can see/insects with no eyes; wind/stillness


Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the critical thinking questions posed on their printable pages or above.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding

NS.K-4.2 Physical Science
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.2 Physical Science
NS.5-8.3 Life Science
GRADES 9 - 12
NS.9-12.2 Physical Science
NS.9-12.3 Life Science

See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
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