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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Beware the San Antonio Satan Fish

Posted By on Tue, Oct 31, 2017 at 10:41 AM

  • Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, Texas A&M University
  • X-ray scan of a Satan fish
Ahhhh, Halloween in San Antonio. The weather is crisp, kids are trick-or-treating, parents indulge in a drink on the stoop and there may or may not be an eyeless creature with see-through skin lurking in the Edwards Aquifer.

"Stranger things" are upon us, indeed.

Scientists at University of Texas Austin are on the hunt this Halloween for the mysterious Satan fish (Satan eurystomus), also known as the Widemouth Blindcat. Scientists collected Satan fish from deep-water wells like the Edwards Aquifer for decades, however, they haven't found any alive since 1984.

Currently, a team of scientists associated with UT Austin are monitoring the overall health of Central Texas aquifers. They hope include a search for Satan fish in their project as these creatures are the top predators in aquifers and a good indicator of the entire ecosystem's health.

"We still don't really know who Satan is and where it came from. It would be cool to sequence Satan's DNA. No one's done it before," said Dean Hendrickson, curator of ichthyology at UT Austin, in a press release.

The UT team published a paper on the fish's anatomy Oct. 31. 

While most San Antonio residents are unaware of Satan fish because of its decline and possible extinction, scientists have been diligently studying the creature using preserved specimens.

"Satan fish are really cool critters," said Hendrickson. "I want to raise awareness and get a study going to see if there's something going on down there."

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