While the Theory of Evolution was named so because of a lack of significant pieces of evidence back when it was developed by our favorite turtle killer, Charles Darwin, things have changed since then. Now, evolution is pretty much a confirmed thing, even though some links are still missing.
But as it happens with most scientific fields that are still developing, we are still learning new things every day. And scientists are excited to grasp at anything and everything that could prove to be a new source that would help them better understand their field. Even better, if that something is something never before seen, we might actually get totally new information that we never had before.
According to a study performed by scientists from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a Thai cave fish can walk like a tetrapod. It’s got everything to help it do that, from a pelvis designed specifically for terrestrial endeavors to four fins that double as legs. But you can’t have it all, however, so the creature is completely blind due to spending its entire life in a cave.
New Jersey Institute of Technology’s assistant professor of Biological Sciences Brooke Flammang had the following to say about the discovery:
Out of the 30,000 species of fishes that we know to exist, these fish are truly spectacular and look different than everything else that we’ve ever seen. […]From an evolutionary perspective, this is a huge finding. This is one of the first fish that we have as a living species that acts in a way that we think they must have acted when they evolved from a fluid environment to a terrestrial environment.
Cryptotora thamicola, also known as the angel fish because of its wing-like fins/legs, are blind. Despite this fact however, they are able to navigate waterways and to even climb cave walls in a fashion similar to salamanders. Even though they only grow to about two inches in length, the fish have a “robust pelvic girdle” that allows them to walk on land similar to tetrapods.
The animal’s footprints are eerily similar to those left in river beds in Australia during the Devonian era, the period when animals started climbing out of the water and walking on land. However, even if the process isn’t identical, the discovery might prove to be a huge boon in understanding evolution, particularly the process of developing walking appendages.
While the discovery is huge and has huge ramifications all over various branches of biology and science, studying the creatures may prove extremely difficult, if not impossible. Even though they are protected, the animals are still at a huge risk because of tourism and agriculture, so the Thai authorities would rather leave the animals be rather than risking inadvertent harm.
Image source: Flickr