First Sleeper Goby Cavefish Discovered in Western Hemisphere

Posted on June 30, 2016

Caecieleotris morrisi

Scientists have discovered a new genus and species of cavefish in Mexico. The Oaxaca Cave Sleeper is the first sleeper goby cavefish discovered in the Western Hemisphere.

The researchers say that less than 0.5% of all fish species are cave-adapted. Caecieleotris morrisi is a sleeper goby in the family Eleotridae. It is the first cave-adapted member of the group from the Western Hemisphere. The other cave-adapted species are from the Indian Ocean.

The Oaxaca Cave Sleeper is morphologically adapted to the cave environment. It does not have eyes or pigment, but it has a shovel-shaped head and well-developed sensory papillae, which contain its taste buds. Curator of Fishes at the LSU Museum of Natural Science Prosanta Chakrabarty and U.S. Geological Survey Research Fish Biologist Stephen Walsh discovered and described the fish.

A research paper on the new fish was published in Copeia. A TED video on the newly discovered fish can be found here. An image of its skull is pictured below.

Caecieleotris morrisi skull


Photos: Stephen Walsh, USGS