Researchers from the New Jersey Institute of Technology have discovered a strange new species of fish in the caves of Thailand. The blind cavefish, newly dubbed Cryptotora thamicola, is able to walk on land and even crawl up waterfalls the same way a four-footed animal would. Though there are other species of fish in the world that can walk outside of water, none of them bear the strange features of Cryptotora.
The team behind the new study describes the fish’s anatomy as “salamander-like,” noting that its pelvic girdle has more in common with terrestrial vertebrates than it does with other fish. Study author Brooke E. Flammang noted in a press release, “It possesses morphological features that have previously only been attributed to tetrapods. The pelvis and vertebral column of this fish allow it to support its body weight against gravity and provide large sites for muscle attachment for walking. This research gives us insight into the plasticity of the fish body plan and the convergent morphological features that were seen in the evolution of tetrapods.”
In other words, further research into this strange new fish could just hold clues into how the first land-animals evolved, and exactly how fins were able to gradually transform into arms and legs. The full study has been published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, where it can be read for free.