Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Blind Mexican catfish species spotted in the US for the first time

JUNE 18, 2016

by Chuck Bednar

For the first time, a rare type of eyeless catfish native to Mexico has been spotted in the US, as a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin identified the creature swimming in a limestone cave at the Amistad National Recreation Area near the city of Del Rio.

Known as the Mexican blindcat (Prietella phreatophila), these endangered fish are typically less than three inches long and live in areas supported by the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer underlying the Rio Grande basin in Texas and Coahuila, UT-Austin ichthyology curator Dean Hendrickson and his colleagues explained Friday in a statement.

In May, Hendrickson’s team found two of the catfish in the limestone cave, and their discovery supports the belief that the Texas and Mexico portions of the aquifer are connected by water-filled caves located under the Rio Grande. While there have been rumored sighting of the species in Texas for decades, this is the first time that such observations can be confirmed.

The two catfish, which have since been relocated to the San Antonio Zoo, “look just like the ones from Mexico,” the ichthyologist said. It is the third species of blind catfish to be identified in the US, joining the toothless blindcat (Trogloglanis pattersoni) and the widemouth blindcat (Satan eurystomus). All three species have only been spotted in Texas.

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