Eyeless Cave Fish ‘Sisters’ Found on Opposite Sides of Indian Ocean
by AMNH staff
Researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and Louisiana State University have discovered that two groups of blind cave fishes now separated by about 6,000 miles of open ocean are each other’s closest relatives. These eyeless fishes, one group from Madagascar and the other from Australia, descended from a common ancestor before being separated by continental drift nearly 100 million years ago, the scientists say.
Their study, which was published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, also identifies new species that add to existing biological proof for the existence of Gondwana, a prehistoric supercontinent that was part of Pangaea and contained all of today’s southern continents.
The cave fishes, of the genus Typhleotris in Madagascar and Milyeringa in Australia, are small—less than 100 mm long—and usually lack pigment, a substance that gives an organism its color and also provides protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. These characteristics, coupled with a lack of eyes and enhanced sensory capabilities, are common in many cave organisms…
(read more: AMNH) (photos: AMNH/J. Sparks)