Researchers Discover World's Largest Cave Fish In Northeast India

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In a recent scientific discovery, researchers discovered the world's largest cavefish in the Um Ladaw Cave, Meghalaya, Northeastern India.

Written By Ruchit Rastogi | Mumbai | Updated On:
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In a recent discovery, researchers discovered the world's largest cavefish in Um Ladaw Cave, Northeastern India. The fish measured a foot and half in length and weighed 10 times more than any other species on record. According to reports, the fish was first discovered by biologist Daniel Harries during a research expedition in the year 2019. The biologist said that the fishes could be on the path of evolving into a completely new species, adding that the change could enable scientists to better understand the process of evolution.

According to reports, the discovery fanned many questions such as what is the food source for the fishes and how they have adapted with time to sustain themselves in these underwater caves. The recently discovered cavefish is blind and eyeless but have the ability to sense light.

The cave in which the fishes were discovered, is located in Meghalaya. According to reports, researchers made the finding in an underground cavity called the Um Ladaw Cave. Harries said that the team saw the fishes swimming in a pool. He further added, owing to their size he had to adopt another method to catch the fishes. The biologist ditched his fishing net and used biscuits in an underwater bag.

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'Fish probably survived on vegetation'

According to reports, Daniel Harries said that the fish probably fed on vegetation washed inside due to consistent downpour. Talking about the fishes' size, he said that their source of sustenance still remained a mystery. He further added that the research team did not weight the fishes owing to difficult conditions.

According to reports, the research team is working with two Indian scientists, Rajeev Raghavan and Neelesh Dahanukar to sequence the fishes; genetic sequence and reach a conclusive decision if it was a new species or not. After returning to the gave in 2020, the team took a few live fish and fragments of their fins to be analysed in their laboratory.

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Closely related to Golden Mahseer

Daniel Harries said that the recently discovered cavefish is related to the surface fishes known as Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora). The endangered species of Cyprinid fish are mostly found in riverine pools, rapid streams located in the Himalayan region. He said that the difference between both the marine animals is that the cavefish lacked pigmentation in their biological structure and their eyes are very poorly developed.

Before the discovery of the world's largest cavefish, the two longest known subterranean fish was the blind swamp eel (Ophisternon infernale) and the blind cave eel (Ophisternon candidum).

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