A salamander isolated for thousands of years

Shaped by thousands of years living in darkness, this strange creature has lost its eyes, its pigmentation and the use of its legs. 😼 Meet the Texas blind salamander.

An animal cut off from the world for thousands of years


Living in a dark place with little oxygen or food
What would that animal look like? Like this.

This is Eurycea rathbuni, or the Texas blind salamander. It’s called a troglobite, a species that lives exclusively in caves. Like other troglobites, it only exists in an extremely specific and isolated environment.

This salamander is only found in one place on Earth: a network of caves near the city of San Marcos, Texas. These dark, underwater caves have had a major impact on this salamander’s evolution. It has lost all its pigmentation, making its body look translucent and revealing the blood circulating inside. The blood is especially visible near its external gills, which allow it to obtain all the oxygen it needs while staying underwater.

This aquatic lifestyle has also caused its legs to atrophy, since they no longer need to support its body weight. More remarkably, it has lost its eyes over time, they’re now reduced to two black spots. To compensate, it detects its prey using its highly sensitive skin, which can detect water movement. In its isolated environment, it’s at the top of the food chain, feeding mainly on small shrimp. To determine the sex of its congeners in order to reproduce, it uses chemical signals.

But since these signals must travel through water, the already limited population of this salamander is made very fragile by any pollution in its environment. For this reason, it is considered federally endangered and measures are taken to protect the water sources flowing into its habitat.

Brut.

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Brut.
January 30, 2020 8:05 AM