Biggest ever blind subterranean fish found in Indian cave that is over a foot long


Biggest ever blind subterranean fish discovered in Indian cave that is over a foot long which is five TIMES larger than its closet cousin

  • Experts discovered  the biggest ever subterranean fish in a cave in India
  • The fish, similar to a carp, is over a foot long – the average grows up to 13 inches
  • This fish is also blind, leaving experts to wonder how it has been able to survive
  • Most fish living in dark caves are small and thin due to limited food supplies 

A subterranean fish has been discovered in a cave beside the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, India that is five times the length of any known in the world.

The largest subterranean fish typically grows to about 13 inches long, but the record breaking creature was found to be over a foot in length.

Not only is the fish, which is similar to a carp, longer than most, it was also bulkier with a ‘body mass likely to exceed that of the next largest cave fish by at least an order of magnitude.’

The exploration team, who traveled to the cave in February 2019, also noticed that the fish was blind after it appeared to be unresponsive to light. 

The new discover challenges theories that suggest fish living in dark environments have a limited food supply. 

‘When first encountered the fish appeared unresponsive to light, although they did react to the water disturbance created by cavers wading through the pools,’ the team wrote in the study.

‘However, where water disturbance was minimized they became inquisitive and appeared to be searching actively for food.’

‘They were attracted to minor ripples caused by patting the water surface and gnawed at boots and other items placed in the water.’

This discovery, not only breaks a record, but challenges theories that fish living in such habitats are smaller due to the limited food supply.

Not only is the fish, which is similar to a carp, longer than most, it was also bulkier with a 'body mass likely to exceed that of the next largest cave fish by at least an order of magnitude'

Not only is the fish, which is similar to a carp, longer than most, it was also bulkier with a ‘body mass likely to exceed that of the next largest cave fish by at least an order of magnitude’

The exploration team, who traveled to the cave in February 2019, also noticed that the fish was blind after it appeared to be unresponsive to light. The new discover challenges theories that suggest fish living in dark environments have a limited food supply

The exploration team, who traveled to the cave in February 2019, also noticed that the fish was blind after it appeared to be unresponsive to light. The new discover challenges theories that suggest fish living in dark environments have a limited food supply

‘It has always been assumed that cave fishes exceeding 350 mm would be most unlikely on resource grounds but this has now been shown to be spectacularly wrong,’ the researchers explain.

‘The fish discovered in Meghalaya in February 2019 is not only substantially longer than the longest previously known species but is considerably more bulky with a body mass likely to exceed that of the next largest cave fish by at least an order of magnitude.’

Although this is the largest subterranean fish, experts noted that it differs from its fellow species in pigmentation, a lack of eyes and its habitat, and it seems to have characteristics similar to the Tor putitora fish.

The subterreanean fish is similar in that it is a large carp with big scales.

It has flesh lips continuous at the angles of the mouth and two pairs of large barbels.

‘Tor putitora is distributed widely across all of the Indian subcontinental region including India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar,’ reads the study.

In 2019 the expedition team were searching for caves in a remote and densely forested area of the Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya

In 2019 the expedition team were searching for caves in a remote and densely forested area of the Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya

‘Significantly it is known from the Garo Hills of Meghalaya.’

‘It is therefore quite possible for the cave fish to have evolved from this widespread epigean species.’

‘It is known to inhabit rapid-flowing streams and pools such as those present at lower altitudes in the Jaintia Hills.

‘It is also reported to be an opportunistic omnivorous feeder, which would prove an adaptive advantage in the nutrient poor cave habitats.’

 



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