A brand new species of catfish has been discovered near Tena in the Napo District of Ecuador, and it’s unlike anyone has ever seen. Not only does it have a slightly different look, but it was also filmed doing something that has never been seen before. What was found was a cave-climbing catfish that was filmed actually going up a rock wall.
According to BBC, an international research team was in a cave in Ecuador and actually witnessed a number of the catfish moving vertically up walls that had water trickling down them. The walls were near a vertical flowstone waterfall.
Making matters even more shocking is that some of the catfish were actually close to three meters (approximately nine feet) above the floor of the cave.
“Two individuals were observed on the lower part, above a near vertical section of the flowstone about 1 meter above the stream, and three individuals were on the upper part within 10–30 cm from the inflow source on a near vertical section.”
The catfish were climbing through a 0.5-1.5 centimeter-thick sheet of water over the flowstone that began in an area of two or three small openings.
Scientists and others have reported of climbing fish before, but they’ve never actually been filmed or observed doing it. Classified as Chaetostoma microps (Siluriformes Loricariidae) per Caving News, none of this family has ever been filmed climbing in a cave like this.
The Chaetostoma microps are a freshwater fish that are specific to the upper reaches of the Amazon basin in Ecuador.
The cave-climbing catfish have sucker-shaped mouths and feed primarily on algae. Their oddly shaped mouths also help them to attach to trees and rocks that are submerged in fast-flowing sections of water.
Scientists are surprised by the cave-climbing behavior in this particular species of catfish, but something else puzzles them more. They are more shocked as to where the action of the catfish was filmed as it normally only happened in water above ground, not in caves.
“It’s not too surprising to find another catfish that climbs rocks. What is surprising is the environment that they are doing it in,” said Geoff Hoese, naturalist and lead author of the study.
“This is a significant observation that merits investigation into why they are there.”
A number of environmental factors need to happen in order for a species to totally change habitats and even more for them to move underground. For this species of catfish to become cave-adapted, well, it had to take a good bit of time.
Hoese believes that this may actually be a “small but significant step as a species moving from one niche to another.” More data will need to be collected and analyzed, but it could bring about some truly exciting information.’
The cave-climbing catfish may have been doing this for quite some time, but the filming of them makes it new to the rest of the world. Now, scientists will be able to observe, study, and learn more about these unique creatures.
[Image via BBC]