Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

That Word You Heard: Troglomorphism

Adapted for a life in total darkness.

By Alex OrlandoMay 14, 2020 11:00 AM
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.

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In