A New Fish Species Discovered inside a cave in Meghalaya has taken Scientists by storm. Due to long-term exposure to perpetual darkness, the fish has lost its sight and skin pigments. Scientists from the Gauhati University and the North Eastern Hill University have conducted the research. Furthermore, New Zealand based journal, ‘Zootaxa’ has published the full research.
Talking about the sightless fish species, Khlur Mukhim, who is a leading researcher from Gauhati University said, “The orbital diameter (of the vestigial subcutaneous eyes) gradually decreases as the species matures, with the eyes completely absent in older individuals. Eventually, only small, faintly blackish spot-like depressions appear in place of eyes, indicating evolutionary and morphological adaptations.”
ABOUT THE NEW FISH SPECIES DISCOVERED
- The fish has been named ‘Schistura Larketensis’.
- It has borrowed its name from the village ‘Larket’ where the cave was found.
- Situated 800 meter above sea level, the cave is 7 Km in length. It is located in East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya.
- Moreover, Scientists believe that naming the fish species after the name of the village will help in increasing awareness about biodiversity conservation amongst the villagers.
- Khlur Mukhim had discovered these unique fish species, years ago. However, it involved a lot of research to establish the fact the species is actually blind and ‘one of its kind’.
About the new species of fish, Mukhim said, “There are about 200 known species of similar kinds of fishes. They inhabit streams and rivers in the Indo-China and Southeast Asian region. However, this is the first such discovery.”
He further added, “This species can be immediately distinguished from all other species of Schistura, barring the Schistura papulifera — another cave fish from the Synrang Pamiang cave system in the same district — by the vestigial subcutaneous eyes which appear as black spots.”
The cave hosts various unique species. It includes weakly pigmented crabs and crayfish, spiders, crickets, cockroaches and millipedes, small frogs and snakes, porcupine paws and quills.
Meghalaya has a rich biodiversity. However, harmful human activities such as open cast mining and thereby pollution pose a great threat to the biodiversity.