That Word You Heard: Troglomorphism

Adapted for a life in total darkness.

By Alex Orlando
May 14, 2020 11:00 AMMay 15, 2020 4:50 PM
Troglomorphism Blind Catfish - Chad Edwards
(Credit: Chad Edwards)


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Deep within cave systems, creatures live their entire lives shrouded in darkness. Some, like the aptly named blind catfish, have even evolved to be entirely eyeless. Others, like certain cave spiders and centipedes, have elongated limbs that serve as sensory organs. Nearly all are semitranslucent and devoid of pigment. These adaptations to the dark are known as troglomorphisms. If you venture into the word’s etymological depths, you’ll find the Greek root morph, meaning form or shape, lurking behind the prefix troglo, or cave-dwelling.

This appeared in the June 2020 issue of Discover magazine. Subscribe for more stories like these.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.