Rare Eyeless Catfish Found In The National Cave In Texas

First Posted: Jun 20, 2016 04:40 AM EDT

A blind catfish that only exists in Mexico is also discovered in the national cave in Texas. It is identified as endangered Mexican blindcat or also known as Prietella phreatophila.

Dean Hendrickson, the curator of ichthyology at the University of Texas at Austin said that since the 1960s there have been rumors of seeing blind, white catfishes in the area, but this is the first confirmation. He further said that he has seen more of these things than anybody, and these specimens look just like the ones from Mexico. He and his team found a pair of blind catfish in a deep limestone cave at Amistad National Recreation Area near Del Rio in Texas. They were relocated in the San Antonio Zoo, according to Science Daily.

The Mexican blindcat is pinkish white in color and its dorsal fin has no spine. It has a total length of 9.2 centimeters (3.6 in). It has no eyes. It is believed to be prevalent to Coahuila in the Rio Bravo drainage in northern Mexico. They dwell in groundwater.

The pinkish-white fish was first spotted in April 2015 by Jack Johnson, a caver, and National Park Service resource manager at Amistad. Then, he and Peter Sprouse, the biologist at Peter Sprouse of Zara Environmental LLC saw the fish again last month.

Sprouse explained that cave-dwelling animals are fascinating in that they have lost many of the characteristics they are familiar with in surface animals, such as pigmentation for camouflage, eyes and speed. He further explained that they have found an ecological niche where none of those things are needed and in there they have developed extra-sensory abilities to succeed in total darkness.

The discovered blind catfish will be maintained alive in a special facility for aquifer and cave species at the San Antonio Zoo's Department of Conservation and Research. They are not yet displayed on public.

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