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Living blindly

The extremely rare blind catfish, endemic to the Toca do Gonçalo cave in the city of Campo Formoso in the Brazilian state of Bahia, can grow to almost 6 centimeters in length, but has no eyes or pigments.  “The species belongs to the genus Rhamdiopsis and has not yet been described, although we have been able to include it on a list of endangered Brazilian fauna  that is currently being revised,” says Eleonora Trajano, from the Biosciences Institute of the University of São Paulo (IB-USP). The isolation of catfish populations in subterranean environments for thousands of years has preserved mutations that prevent the formation of eyes and the production of pigments.  These mutations do not allow for life outside the caves. The sample was photographed in Trajano’s laboratory by U.S. zoologist Danté Fenolio.

Photo submitted by Eleonora Trajano of the USP Biosciences Institute

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