First ever cavefish discovered in Europe evolved super-fast
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Europe’s first cavefish has been discovered by a cave diver in Germany. The pale-coloured loach, shown above, is thought to have diverged from surface fish as glaciers from the last ice age receded some 16,000 to 20,000 years ago. “Our first genetic studies, plus knowledge of the geological history of the region, suggest the cave loach population is amazingly young, certainly not older than 20,000 years,” says Jasminca Behrmann-Godel at the University of Konstanz in Germany, who led the team that analysed the fish. “Despite this short time span, the fish show trademark adaptions to cave life compared with loaches from surface locations nearby, including a pale body colouration, much smaller eyes, plus larger nostrils and barbels.” It shows that adaptation to these subterranean habitats can be fast, and just a few thousand years might be enough for a fish to adapt to cave life, says Behrmann-Godel. “Cavefish could exist virtually everywhere in principle, and there’s no good reason to expect long evolution times for them to adapt to cave environments,” she says.
Cavefish, Europe, Discovery, Evolve
Coghlan, Andy, "First ever cavefish discovered in Europe evolved super-fast" (2017). KIP Articles. 2109.