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Discovery Magazine 5/1/2001


Cave Creatures

At first glance, the damp and dark passageways of the cave appear deserted. Jagged rocks and small amounts of fungi growing along the pathway are all that you see. Everything is silent except the dripping water that echoes off the walls every few seconds. Is it possible for any animal to live in such a place?

After a closer look, you find that there are some creatures lurking in your midst. In fact, hundreds of bats hang from a massive stalactite just above your head. A small spider is seen crawling in the pathway. And a raccoon is heard scampering to reach the surface in search of a late night snack. These are animals that use caves for the purpose of sleeping, but they leave when searching for food. Bears and snakes also fit into this category. They use caves while hibernating during the long winters, but when they get hungry—outside they go! There are other animals that never leave the cave. They spend their whole lives in the dark, never reaching the surface. Such creatures would include certain cave crickets, salamanders, and beetles.

Various cave fish spend their whole lives in darkness. Because food is scarce in caves, these fish tend to be only 4 to 5 inches long. With no need for camouflage or protection from the Sun, cave fish have no pigmentation—their skin is either stark white or transparent. Some, like the ones located in Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, are completely blind. Other cave fish have no eyes at all. You might wonder how these sightless fish swim without bumping into everything. And how do they hunt for food? Cave fish have highly sensitive barbels (whisker-like organs similar to those found on catfish) arranged over the head and body. These sensory organs allow the fish to feel what it cannot see. They make it possible for the fish to hunt for food and to detect nearby predators.

Some evolutionists claim that because these fish have no eyesight and are well adapted to living in caves, then evolution must be true. But scientists today know that these fish are the offspring of fish that once had eyes. Losing a feature doesn’t help evolution! Plus, cave fish are still fish. They have not evolved from or into a frog, a snake, or any other animal. The only difference between cave fish and other fish is that they have adapted to their environment in a special way. Just because a fish’s eyes no longer function does not mean that the fish somehow "evolved" in the past, or will do so in the future. Plants and animals do adapt; they do not evolve. 



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