Found: Eyeless Catfish That Made It to the U.S. Through Secret Caves - Atlas Obscura
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Found: Eyeless Catfish That Made It to the U.S. Through Secret Caves

Though no one knows for sure.

Mexican blindcats. (Photo: Danté Fenolio)

The Mexican blindcat has no eyes, and its skin is so translucent that its color, a light pink, comes from the blood coursing underneath. These catfish live underground, in the Edwards-Trinity aquifer, on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande basin.

For years, they were rumored to cross over, sometimes, to the U.S. side. But no one knew for sure. Now, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have caught and identified Mexican blindcats on the Texas side of the border.

It took about a year: a National Park Service employee who was caving in the aquifer reported seeing the blindcats in the spring of 2015, and the newly identified fish were found in May of 2016. These fish grow no longer than 3 inches, and it took a few trips underground before the scientists spotted them again.

The most intriguing questions about these fish are how they got to Texas. Under the Rio Grande, there are a series of watery caves, which have never been fully mapped or explored. It’s possible that the fish traveled from Mexico to Texas through those caves—which would mean there’s a secret connection between the aquifers in Mexico and the U.S. that’s never been discovered.

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