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A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Blind cave creatures light the way with DNA

Researchers studying the European olm, and other cave dwellers, believe these strange creatures can provide important answers about evolution and even human eye diseases. © Javier Ábalos Alvarez from Madrid, España, CC BY-SA 2.0

Underground caves fauna could cast light on longevity, surviving starvation, and eye diseases in humans

In watery underground caverns, there are creatures that live in eternal midnight. Over the course of generations, these animals have adapted to their isolated and unique environments, and scientists believe their pasty skin and blind eyes may hold secrets to evolution –– and to genetic adaptations that could cast light on longevity, surviving starvation, and eye diseases in humans.

'These caves are isolated worlds,' said Professor Peter Trontelj, a zoologist at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. 'If you go a couple of metres (below the surface), you enter a new world with totally different ecological conditions.'

Certain animals are able to adapt to these dark habitats where no plants grow, and lightless caves, like those found in Slovenia, are natural laboratories of evolutionary biology.

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