Unicorn-Like Blind Fish Discovered In Dark & Deep Chinese Caves

Apr 03, 2023by Olivia Harper - F&F

Hiding deep in the darkest waters of Chinese caves is a peculiar fish species that looks quite like the mythical unicorn! Let's learn more.

A Rare Fish Discovery That Resembles A Unicorn!

Researchers in China recently discovered a new fish accidentally. This isn't just any ordinary fish, though - it's been dubbed a blind "unicorn" fish due to the bulbous, horn-like protrusion on its head!

It was discovered hiding in a pitch-black pool the size of a kitchen table. The creature was reported to have no scales or colour, and tiny rudimentary eyes that likely cannot see anything. It also has an unusually large horn stretching out of its forehead, just like a unicorn!

This freaky-looking creature was discovered during a survey of cave fish belonging to the Sinocyclocheilus genus. Fish in this genus are typically found in the mountainous Guizhou province in China, inhabiting small, dark pools.

Image: Rod Holt

A Species With No Vision, Scales, or Colour!

There are 76 known species of Sinocyclocheilus. Most share similar characteristics with the newly discovered species, such as reduced or no vision, a lack of scales, and no pigmentation — how odd!

Okay, so get this: only some of the Sinocyclocheilus fish have a horn, while others have completely lost their eyes! This is due to "regressive evolution," where species gradually lose their complex features over generations.

There are also a handful of Sinocyclocheilus species that live in illuminated waters and lack the unusual features associated with their eccentric cousins.

The Fish Horn Is Quite The Mystery

The purpose of the "horn" on these species is not yet clear. The most logical explanation would be that the horns help these fish "see" in the dark. But, their barbels already enable them to navigate around their pool, which is not very big and would likely require minimal navigation skills.

Most Sinocyclocheilus species have a fully developed lateral line, which is an organ composed of highly sensitive cells that runs laterally down a fish's body and detects changes in pressure, temperature, and salinity — so the horn is also unlikely to be needed to detect those either.

Until more study is done, this fish and its purpose for the unicorn-looking horn seem to be a mystery for now!

What a peculiar animal, we’ve never seen anything like it!

If you love hearing about unique wildlife discoveries as much as we do, check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.

New Deep Sea Species Discovered in The Indian Ocean

This Crab Hadn’t been Spotted For 225 Years, Until Now!

This Black Softshell Turtle Made A Comeback From Extinction In Nepal!

More Articles