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Weird Animals: Translucent Eyeless Catfish Spotted in Texas for the First Time

Jun 20, 2016 10:38 PM EDT

An extremely rare species of catfish has been discovered in a deep limestone cave at Amistad National Recreation Area in Texas. Meet the Mexican blindcat, an endangered catfish that has no eyes and has translucent skin.

According to Phys.org, the Mexican blindcat is a particularly small fish that grows up to three inches and commonly thrives in the waterways of the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer under the Rio Grande basin.

Unlike surface creatures, the said species also has a pinkish white color and has no scales. Its blood can also be seen because of its translucent skin. Tech Times notes that its unique appearance is partly due of its underground living environment. Because of the total darkness in its living environment, this fish species evolved to adapt to the surroundings.

"Cave-dwelling animals are fascinating in that they have lost many of the characteristics we are familiar with in surface animals, such as eyes, pigmentation for camouflage, and speed. They have found an ecological niche where none of those things are needed, and in there they have evolved extra-sensory abilities to succeed in total darkness," said Peter Sprouse, a biologist and leader of the team that discovered the rare species.

The discovery of the two Mexican blindcat is the first confirmed spotting of the said endangered species. According to Dean Hendrickson, curator of ichthyology at The University of Texas at Austin, there have been rumors of Mexican blindcat sightings but no confirmation has been made.

"Since the 1960s there have been rumors of sightings of blind, white catfishes in that area, but this is the first confirmation. I've seen more of these things than anybody, and these specimens look just like the ones from Mexico," Hendrickson said.

The recent discovery joins two blind catfish species also found in Texas: the toothless blindcat (Trogloglanis pattersoni) and the widemouth blindcat (Satan eurystomus). The Mexican blindcat is currently kept at the San Antonio Zoo's Department of Conservation and Research, where they are in a special facility for cave aquifer species.

The researchers said that studying the health of the Mexican blindcat could open doors in determining the condition of aquifer systems, which supports not only rare fish species but also human populations.

Check out the video of the discovery below.

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