11 Blind Animals That are Hardly Senseless
|Kiwa Hirsuta Crab|
The blind lobster, along with this furry Kiwa Hirsuta crab were discovered during a decade-long survey of the deep ocean.
The crab lives on and near volcanic vents and is thought to feed on bacteria. The long hairs are not used to detect prey, but instead filter poisonous chemicals emitted by the vents from the water.
Whether they burrow through the soil, swim in caves, or crawl along the deep ocean, incredible blind animals manage to develop unique means to survive in these unusual environments; even without the use of their eyes.
Though the star-nosed mole is functionally blind, it possesses an incredible sense of smell that helps it locate prey. By exhaling and inhaling air bubbles, this mole can even smell underwater.
The distinctive tentacles radiating off the mole's nose are covered in more than 25,000 tiny touch receptors known as "Eimer's organs." Though these organs are believed to be used to detect the electrical activity of nearby prey, no empirical evidence has been found to support this idea.
Whether by virtue of the Eimer's organs or the moles remarkable sense of smell, the star-nosed mole is an incredible predator, capable of identifying and consuming prey in as little as 120 milliseconds.
|Naked Mole Rat|
In the comic Daredevil, mild-mannered Mathew Murdock is blinded when a chemical spills onto his face from a passing truck. With his vision impaired, the rest of his senses become heightened.
Plot devices aside, nature is full of animals that, lacking highly a highly-developed sense of sight, are able to accomplish incredible things with their other senses.
The unusual naked mole rat is certainly one of them. From their small lungs and low metabalisms—which help them survive in oxygen-deprived tunnels—to their unique colony social structure—which has more in common with ants and bees than other mammals—naked mole rats are highly adapted to their life underground.
Like many troglobites, the cave tetra has undeveloped eyes
|Madagascar Blind Snake |
On every continent save Antarctica, blind snakes burrow beneath the surface of the soil. This ancient and little-understood animal appears infrequently in fossil record, making it difficult for researchers to map their development.
The limited evidence that has been found, however, shows that these Madagascar blind snakes were present when the island split from India and Africa, more than 150 million years ago.
The Olm, or Proteus anguinus, was the first discovered troglobite. Appearing in written accounts as early as 1689, the olm was originally likened to a "baby dragon."
Today, the olm is known to be a unique amphibian which—though blind—has a highly tuned ability to sense the quantity and quality of nearby prey. This is accomplished through a heightened sense of smell and hearing.
|Texas Blind Salamander|
Texas blind salamander, lives in a cave can reach an adult length of about 13 centimeters. His eyes were small and hidden under the skin. Salamanders spend their entire lives in darkness.
Most of the world's blind animals are troglobites—or cave dwellers. The rare Leptodirus hochenwartii beetle is a true troglobite, specifically adapted to life underground and unable to survive in the outside world
First described in 1832, the beetle is the first officially identified cave animal.
|Brazilian Blind Characid|
Even stranger—and more rare—than the cave tetra is this strange fish native to only a few pools in the caves of Brazil. The Brazilian blind characid was actually thought to be extinct until researchers rediscovered small groups in 2010.
Both the cave tetra and the Brazilian blind characid make up for what they lack—eyes—by using sound waves to navigate and find food.
While most blind animals live beneath the surface of the soil or in caves, there is another area in which vision is not the most useful sense: The deep ocean.
Three-hundred meters beneath the surface of the ocean, this blind lobster roams the seafloor, catching prey with its long claws, called chelipeds.
Than 850 new species found during surveys in the Australian underground habitats, spiders are blind, was "totally unexpected things in unexpected places," team member Steve Cooper, from the South Australian Museum, said in October 2009.
For example, a scientist found an arachnid in western Australia, dry pastureland that has been estimated to exist only in the rainforest - the first time in a group of species ever found in Australia, Cooper said.