Thursday, July 7

Study explains how this salamander survives in the dark | Digital Trends Spanish


A study published in the journal GigaScience shows how the blind salamander (Proteus anguinus) manages to adapt to the aquatic and dark environment in which it lives. This species lies in the underwater caves of Europe and around the year 1600 it was baptized as “baby dragon” by the locals.

Now, using X-ray computed tomography scans, the scientists were able to generate 3D reconstructions of the soft tissue in the salamander’s head, allowing them to observe the changes that have taken place in the animal’s body over time.

Wildwonders

One of the most relevant aspects highlighted by researchers is the resistance of this species. Living in an underground environment, one of its main adaptations has been its resistance to starvation, allowing it to survive up to 10 years without eating anything. The animal also has gills and lungs unlike most amphibians.

“We accessed various collections to cover stages of development, from larvae to adult specimens. Therefore, the data can be used to study the differences in development and evolution between stages. Additionally, making salamander data accessible allows for an exemplary comparison between cave-dwelling and surface-dwelling paedomorphic salamanders,” the study notes.

The ancestors of this species were surface dwellers and had eyes, however, when they began to live in lightless caves, the selective pressure to retain vision disappeared. In this way, the visual organs of the salamander became smaller and incomplete, so the amphibian became blind.

In any case, and as an inheritance from its ancestors, the vision is present in the first stages of life of this specimen; loss of this ability occurs from youth to adulthood.

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