People pick up catfish which have fallen from a truck on a street in Kaili, Guizhou province March 18, 2015. Reuters/China Stringer Network

Eyeless catfish have been discovered in a Texas cave and experts believe that they may have come from Mexico. Blind fish, though documented in 1954 in Mexico, have never been seen this far north. This in turn has led the experts to believe that there must be underground caverns that link Mexico to US. The Texas cave where the blind catfish have been found is an entirely new area for such species.

University of Texas, Austin, reported the discovery of albescent pink fish swimming in a limestone cave at the Amistad National Recreation Area, near Del Rio in southern Texas. The fish are about three inches long and are known by the name Mexican blindcat. They were collected by a team of researchers in May.

“Cave-dwelling animals are fascinating in that they have lost many of the characteristics we are familiar with in surface animals, such as eyes, pigmentation for camouflage, and speed. They have found an ecological niche where none of those things are needed, and in there they have evolved extra-sensory abilities to succeed in total darkness,” said biologist Peter Sprouse of Zara Environmental LLC.

Ichthyologist Dean Hendrickson pointed out that this discovery is the first confirmation of rumours that there have been blind, white catfish sightings in the area. He confirmed that the catfish discovered look just like the ones in Mexico. In April 2015, caver and National Park Service employee Jack Johnson saw many weird and indolent fish whose blood was visible through their translucent skin in the waters of an Amistad cave. Finally, Sprouse and Johnson found these amazing fish in the cave.

Before the discovery, blind fish were rumoured to be found only in north of the Rio Grande. Texas has two other species of blind catfish: the widemouth blindcat and the toothless blindcat. They live deep in the aquifer below San Antonio. The blindcats rely completely on sensitive hearing, taste and touch to feed on small brine shrimp and insects.

The newly-discovered fish have been taken to the San Antonio Zoo that has special labs designed specifically for hosting cave life.