Blind Flight? A New Troglobiotic Orthoclad (Diptera, Chironomidae) from the Lukina Jama – Trojama Cave in Croatia

The genus Troglocladius Andersen, Baranov et Hagenlund, gen. n. is erected based on T. hajdi Andersen, Baranov et Hagenlund, sp. n. collected at 980 m depth in the Lukina jama—Trojama cave system in Croatia. Morphological features such as pale color, strongly reduced eyes and very long legs make it a typical cave animal. Surprisingly, it has also retained large wings and appears to be capable of flight which would make T. hajdi the first flying troglobiont worldwide, disproving previous beliefs that bats are the only animals capable of flying in complete darkness. Morphologically the new species does not readily fit within any described genus, but shares characteristics with genera both in the tribes “Metriocnemini” and “Orthocladiini”. Bayesian molecular phylogenetic analysis using the markers COI, 18S rDNAs, 28S rDNA, CADI, and CADIV groups it with the genera Tvetenia, Cardiocladius and Eukiefferiella in the tribe “Metriocnemini”. Troglocladius hajdi may be parthenogenetic, as only females were collected. The discovery confirms the position of the Dinaric arch as a highly important hotspot of subterranean biodiversity.