Considering the number of plant and animal species in this world, it shouldn’t be surprising anymore that there is new and unique information available each day. The fact that there is a fish that can climb walls, seemingly using its “legs”, is totally astounding. Let us take a closer look at this interesting anomaly and why it moves that way.
8. Moving from water to land
Over 400 million years ago, the first water-dwelling creature dared to take the first steps down the evolutionary path by trying to get out of the water. This paved the way for the existence of tetrapods or animals with backbones and four limbs, up until more complex evolution took place. It is still a complete mystery how it happened or what processes took place that enabled evolution.
7. A closer look at evolution
The recent discovery of a blind cave-dwelling fish could shed light to this mystery. This fish was found to have been shuffling forward using its pelvis to move up walls, which is something fishes can’t do. This type of adaptation may have allowed fishes in the past to transition from water to land. It has provided us a glimpse of what mechanisms served as the foundation for the evolution of limbed animals.
6. How it was discovered
Brooke Flammang, the lead author of this study, has returned from an expedition in Thailand where she has seen the unusual movement of the fish, dwelling on a cave. Upon return at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, she has shown the footage captured to her colleagues and everyone was stunned. It was something like never before. The video of the Cryptotora thamicola immediately gained attention and they tried putting the pieces together to shed more light about its existence.
5. Where the fish lives
This fish has no eyes and it inhabits a fast-moving river systems flowing over steep rocks. They usually live at a depth of just 0.4 inches or 1 centimeter. They like dwelling near steep rocks instead of just swimming on calm bodies of water.
4. They’re just like tetrapods
With the use of their pelvises, they can easily move in a strong momentum to carry them forward despite a powerful force of water that pushes them back. They are also covered with just a thin layer of water during their journey. This is exactly how limbs work among tetrapods. This is what made this discovery even more interesting. To find the answers, the scientists tried to analyze the computed X-ray tomography or CT scans of the cavefish. This helped understand why the fish’s pelvis can be so powerful. It was revealed that its pelvis is totally out of this world. Its pelvic structures are robust and it can stiff support between their vertebrae which locks the backbones together. This feature is common among tetrapods, but definitely not with fish.
3. It’s not like other fishes
The idea that fishes can “walk” is not something new in the realm of Science. In fact, there were several other species that were deemed to have the same capability. These cave-dwelling fishes are different though. Let’s take for instance mudskippers. They seem to have the ability to temporarily live on land. However, they don’t walk, but wiggle. They also move with their tails doing most of the job. The same thing is true with frogfish and lungfish that can “walk” but with their fins doing most of the job.
2. Why does it climb a rock?
Though there were some answers on why the fish can move in such a direction, it still remains a question why it climbs the wall in the first place. According to Flammang, it could be because they follow a chemical sensory trail related to their food or for mating purposes.
1. Raising more questions
Though some questions have been answered after the study, several more questions are yet to be answered. For instance, what role do the soft tissues play in locomotion? How do these fishes sense and interact with the environment considering that they are blind? How could the earliest stages of tetrapod evolution have taken place? This fish might not be the missing link, but it can still provide a lot of answers.