Widemouth blindcats live in the fresh waters of the subterranean Edwards Aquifer. These waters ranges from 305 to 582 m below the surface. (Page and Burr, 1991)
Widemouth blindcats generally have similar physical characteristics to other members of the Family Ictaluridae. The most notable difference being that they have no eyes. They are white or pink in color because they lack skin pigmentation. The head is wide and flat and they have barbels. The lips thicken at the corners and the mouth appears as if they have a slight overbite. The gills have separate membranes and contain strong folds. The adipose fin is high and long while the anal fin is rounded and short, with approximately 20 rays. The caudal fin is either slightly notched or straight. (Langecker and Longley, 1993; Page and Burr, 1991)
The life cycle is similar to that of other ictalurids. They reproduce sexually. Similar troglobitic fish species have fewer, larger eggs. Some of these species have a low proportion of reproductive females per reproductive event and slower growth rates. (Trajano, 2001)
Little is known about the mating system of widemouth blindcats. It has not been studied in the natural habitat. Specimens which have been studied appeared to be juveniles, having not reached sexual maturity. Among ictalurids, both monogamy and polygamy have been observed. Spawning season usually varies by habitat. ("Freshwater Fishes of Virginia", 2007; Langecker and Longley, 1993; Trajano, 2001)
Little is known about the reproduction of widemouth blindcats. (Trajano, 2001)
Little is known about parental investment in widemouth blindcats. In most ictalurid species, parental care has been seen, although it varies among species and sexes. ("Freshwater Fishes of Virginia", 2007; Trajano, 2001)
Little is known about the behavior of widemouth blindcats. It has been suggested that they prey on toothless catfish (Trogloglanis pattersoni), which would be the first example of troglobitic fishes interacting as predator and prey. (Langecker and Longley, 1993; Trajano, 2001)
It is unknown how large of an area this species occupies in its aquifer. Consequently, territorial defense and territory size are also unknown. They are assumed to be rather sedentary. (Langecker and Longley, 1993)
Little is known about communication and perception in Satan eurystomus. The species is only observed when specimens emerge from artesian wells and are caught in nets. Most that are caught are already dead by the time they are observed by scientists. Widemouth blindcats lack eyes, however, most ictalurid catfishes have well developed olfactory and tactile senses (including their barbels) that widemouth blindcats may also use to navigate their subterranean environment. There are also lateral-line canals and pores on the head, suggesting they use this mode of perception. (Langecker and Longley, 1993)
Widemouth blindcats are carnivores and detritivores. Upon examining the stomach contents of a few specimens, a mudlike substance was observed, as well as the exoskeletons of crustaceans. There are several known species of crustaceans found in the waters of the Edwards Aquifer, such as Stygobromus russelli. Widemouth blindcats are also able to store extra fat due to a reduced gas bladder. This helps the fish to store more energy when food is scarce. Widemouth blindcats may be top predators in the Edwards Aquifer. (Langecker and Longley, 1993; Reddell, 1994; Trajano, 2001)
There are no known predators of Satan eurystomus.
Satan eurystomus provides no positive economic importance for humans directly, although they are important members of a unique and amazing subterranean ecosystem. Cave fishes are important in the study of evolution.
There are no known adverse effects of Satan eurystomus on humans.
Widemouth blindcats are considered vunerable due to their extreme endemicity and the threat of pollution from agricultural and industrial runoff into the Edwards Aquifer. (Proudlove, 2001)
Satan eurystomas is an odd name. The Latin name is translated as "widemouth prince of darkness". Carl Hubbs, who named this species, seemed to have an affinity for giving diabolical names to cave fishes. His reasoning for this was that Hell was underground. Considering that widemouth blindcats live exclusively in darkness and may be the apex predator in this habitat, the name "widemouth prince of darkness" may turn out to be more accurate than first imagined. ("Satan eurystomus", 2008)
R. Brian Lawson (author), Radford University, Karen Francl (editor), Radford University.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
uses sound to communicate
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
an animal that mainly eats decomposed plants and/or animals
particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
fertilization takes place outside the female's body
union of egg and spermatozoan
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
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Fish and Wildlife Service. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: 90-day Finding for a Petition to List the Robust Blind Salamander, Widemouth Blindcat, and Toothless Blindcat.. 98-24120. Washington, D.C.: Department of the Interior. 1998. Accessed February 02, 2010 at http://fdsys.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1998-09-09/pdf/98-24120.pdf.
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Walsh, S., C. Gilbert. 1995. New Species of Troglobitic Catfish of the Genus Prietella (Siluriformes: Ictaluridae) from Northeastern Mexico. Copeia, No. 4: 850-861.