How this species found its way into this cave, is still a mystery, but that is just one of many that needs to be answered. Cave fish are usually quite small, since there is no light and not much food to grow upon. However, the ones they found in an underground chamber in North-eastern India weighs about ten times more than any other cave fish species known to us.
A Unique Case in the World
It is not like cave fishes don’t exist, since there are about 250 species that have been identified. However, because of their environment, they are usually quite small; about a few inches long. This new species has specimens that are as long as one foot and a half, and they weigh about ten times more than the biggest species known to men; one more proof that nature in India is unique.
Evolution in Motion
The biologist who made the discovery (Daniel Harries) was quite perplexed when he found them, but also amazed at such discovery. The fact is, these fish are still in a mutation process, according to him. Right now, they continue to react to light; something that was confirmed when after a while, every time they turned on the light, the fish would swim away quickly. This capacity to recognize light should go away, since living in a cave does necessitate that sense. In fact, they don’t seem to have eyes to see from.
But why aren’t they already considered to be a completely new species, instead of one still evolving? That’s because they are very close to the family of Golden Mahseers. For now, the scientists have only discovered minor differences between the two. The one living in the cave has no pigmentation, making it almost translucent. It also doesn’t have eyes, or when they do, they are badly formed.
Scientists Say: We Need to Protect Caves
To the biologist who discovered this cave and many others studying similar cases of evolving species around the world, there is an urgent need to protect caves from actions of men. That is because their population is in danger of disappearing even before we have managed to discover them. The threat comes from cement companies, coal mining and water pollution in general.
There is still so much to be discovered, explain the scientists. How these fish swim so confidently without seeing where they are going and how curious they were about humans when they first encountered them, are two things that biologists want to study, in order to understand more about fish and other living things found in caves. Something they may not have the time to do, if mankind continues to pollute.