This Walking Cave Fish Climbs Walls

Posted: Mar 25 2016, 6:49am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 26 2016, 9:53am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

This Walking Cave Fish Climbs Walls
Cryptotora thamicola Credit: New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Walking Cave Fish Discovered in Thailand That Can Climb Waterfalls.

The discovery of a strange fish, that can ascend waterfalls like a salamander, has marine biologists in a dazzled state.

At first sight it almost seems like a hoax. Yet that is precisely the paradox that truth is stranger than fiction. A species of cavefish is capable of climbing up waterfalls like a salamander.

This finding is a real eye opener in evolutionary terms. Published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, the study concentrates on the blind walking cavefish which has been termed Cryptotora thamicola. If there is one thing for sure, it is that these weird fish were made to travel upstream in the manner of crawling creatures.

The fish has certain features that are only to be found in four-legged amphibians and reptiles. These fish clamp on to rocks and climb waterfalls while remaining underwater all the while.

This bizarre behavior almost seems to be alien in its nature. Yet there you have it. Mother Nature is far ahead of us in its artistic and creative acumen. It keeps creating new life forms without copying itself even once.

There are some other fish species that travel on land but none has the capabilities of this cavefish. It is unique in its structural-functional behavioral repertoire.

It employs its pelvic girdle to climb the waterfall. Its physical structure allows it to stick to the rocky texture beneath the waterfall and not become detached from it.

The body weight of this fish is supported by means of its anatomy which is one of a kind. This fish could lend scientists vital clues about how the first sea creatures to start walking on land were like in the distant past.

This occurrence took place in the Devonian Period which transpired about 420 million years ago. That was when creatures made the leap from fins to limbs.

Evolution-wise, this is a remarkable discovery. This is the only such fish that acts in a manner that is not only out-of-this-world but totally different from the rest of the run-of-the-mill marine life.

The muscles of this fish seem to attach themselves firmly to the solid rock and thus it slowly yet steadily makes progress up waterfalls. The plasticity of its frame shows that evolution is flexible and much more complex than we humans take it to be in our anthropomorphic assumptions.

Speaking of the unique anatomical structures seen in the cavefish, Cryptotora thamicola, Brooke Flammang, assistant professor in the NJIT Department of Biological Sciences, says, “It possesses morphological features that have previously only been attributed to tetrapods. The pelvis and vertebral column of this fish allow it to support its body weight against gravity and provide large sites for muscle attachment for walking."

With respect to evolutionary significance, she adds, “This research gives us insight into the plasticity of the fish body plan and the convergent morphological features that were seen in the evolution of tetrapods.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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