Monday, 7 April 2014

Mouth Vision: Blind Fish Suctions Water to Navigate

By Laura Poppick, Staff Writer | April 02, 2014 03:43pm ET

The Mexican blind cavefish does not have eyes, but it can "see" obstacles in dark caves by puckering its mouth and producing bursts of suction, according to a new study. The research describes this unique form of navigation for the first time.

Scientists previously thought theeye-less Mexican cavefish navigated by sensing changes in water pressure produced by waves sent off from the fish's own body. But when theresearchers examined the fish, they found some problems with this explanation. For example, larger fish, which would presumably produce larger waves, should be able to identify objects from farther away than smaller fish. In fact, larger fish detected objects at about the same distance as smaller fish did.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel decided to investigate the sightless navigation further, conducting an experiment in which they counted the number of times the fish opened and closed their mouths when near objects the fish were familiar with. The researchers then moved the objects and observed changes in the fishes' mouth movement in the unfamiliar environment. 

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