Ted Talks: Clues To Prehistoric Times, Found In Blind Cavefish
Prosanta Chakrabarty is a renowned TED fellow, whose sole focus is in exploring the hidden underwater parts of the world. His main aim is to discover new species of the cave-dwelling fish. In this case, he strives to explicitly explain how these subterranean creatures have adapted to their environments after years of constant geological changes. As such, he brings forth new insights into the blindness of the cave fish and what has transpired after tectonic shifts that took place millions of years ago. It is simply a walk back to the past and an in-depth understanding of the present.
Ichthyology is simply study of different species of fishes
Mr. Chakrabarty acknowledges that this is a dream he has held for as long as he can remember. He loves to study, explore, and discover the hidden gems of the world. Especially, his present passion of foraging caves in order to find any new species.
Cavefish are not only able to give hints on biology but also geological factors that dictate habitat, environment, and adaptation traits. They can depict what actually transpired and led to changes to the landmasses around their habitat, not to mention evolution of their sight in regard to their blind nature.
It a fact that all vertebrates do have eyes, including the different species of fish. However, when a specific species begins to adapt to the cold caves that are devoid of light; more often their sight is compromised. After a few generations the fish will not only lose sight but their eyes, too. And so, it is by this evolution process that most of the cavefish species become blind in subsequent generations.
One thing is clear, though
Individual species of blind fish has a story that comparatively varies from the other. It’s based on this fact that discoveries become more interesting, primarily because of the variations of geological and biological processes. For instance, blind fish that was discovered in southern Indiana and was named Amblyopsis hoosieri is relatively different from the others that fall in the same range.
The Hooseir cavefish (Amblyopsis hoosieri) has a close relative living in the Mammoth Cave systems of Kentucky. Their main differences was brought about by the split of Ohio River, of which took place several millions of years ago. It’s for this reason that there exist subtle differences in genetic makeup that dictate their blindness. The rhodospin gene, of which we also have, is one thing that the blind fish lost. In fact, this is basis for sight study on how actually our eyes functions and what actually dictate vision.
This gene is also a good indicator of geological times.
A blindfish from Madagascar has the closest relatives living almost 6,000 kilometers away in Australian caves. If the swimming abilities are to be underscored, it becomes impossible for this fish to have swum across the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless, when DNA analysis is done you get that these species were separated about 100 million years. As research shows, it is almost the same time that the southern continental plates were together.