Major Evolution Breakthrough: Blind Cavefish That Walks like a Four-Legged Creature Is Found
A team of scientists demonstrates that the unique physical adaption of a blind cavefish from Thailand shows how land-walking species evolved.
A team of scientists came to a stunning conclusion while studying a rare fish with no eyes that lives in the caves of northern Thailand.
The blind cavefish, Cryptotora thamicola, walks up rocks and climbs waterfalls like a tetrapod (a four-footed mammal or amphibian), utilizing its unusual pelvis that is fused to its vertebral column. The fish's one inch-long pelvic girdle shares morphological features with terrestrial vertebrates.
The cavefish had been noticed before and even appeared in nature documentaries, despite being very hard to film due to the inaccessibility of the locations where it can be found. But it has not been studied until now and the just-released scientific research shines a whole new light on the uniqueness of this elusive creature.
While other "walking" fish exist, they tend to move using their fins, not via the pelvic adaptation demonstrated by the Cryptotora thamicola, making it move like a salamander. The discovery of this ability has not been seen in other living fish and adds to our understanding of how anatomy must have evolved to allow species to walk on land.
“From an evolutionary perspective, this is a huge finding,” said the study’s co-author Brooke E. Flaming. “This is one of the first fish that we have as a living species that acts in a way that we think they must have acted when they evolved from a fluid environment to a terrestrial environment.”
The evolution of tetrapods began around 395 million years ago during the Devonian Period, a time traditionally known as "The Age of Fish". As tetrapods evolved to live on land, their bodies changed. The Thai cavefish is a fascinating reminder and confirmation of our knowledge of that time.
The research was carried out by Brooke E. Flammang, Daphne Soares, Julie Markiewicz and Apinun Suvarnaraksha from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
You can read the full paper here
Image credit: Daphne Soares
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.