Deep within the wells of central Texas, a little understood predator stalks his prey in total darkness. His species has adapted to survive in waters deep underground, and is capable of crushing the exoskeletons of crustaceans — traits which make him the top carnivore in his habitat. This rarely seen and little understood creature is the Widemouth Blindcat, a species of catfish unique to the wells of the Edwards Aquifer near San Antonio, Texas.
Deep in the Heart of Texas
The widemouth blindcat is known scientifically as Satan eurystomus, and is the only representative of the genus Satan. Blindcat populations are found mostly in the Edwards Aquifer, one of the largest aquifers in the world, and home to many unique and endangered species. Many of the species found in the aquifer are either eyeless or have eyes so undeveloped that they don’t serve much practical purpose.
The blindcat likely started out as a part-time cave dweller, its closest living relative being the flathead catfish, pylodictis olivaris. Over time, it may have been driven further and further into dark waters until it was completely underground. During this process, natural selection favored traits that would make the blindcat a great opportunistic carnivore in his habitat.
Due to its habitat, little is known about the blindcat. Its relative rarity and inaccessibly make it difficult to study. It feeds primarily on anthropods and isopods, but may also be carnivorousness to other fish. It hunts its prey using lateral line receptors which can detect even the faintest movement in the water. Over time, it lost the necessity for eyes, as they’re not very useful in the darkness of the aquifers. The remnants of its eyes are present (though not externally visible), but these serve no practical purpose as they do not connect to the brain. The eyes are merely leftovers from the blindcat’s seeing ancestors. It also lacks typical pigmentation and appears white or pink in color. Although not commonly associated with freshwater species, fish have been known to adapt bizarre and fascinating traits when in total darkness. Scientists discover exciting new adaptions and species almost every time these depths are explored.