Phantom Blindcat

Prietella lundbergi holotype specimen

During our 1990s expeditions througout Coahuila chasing Mexican Blindcats, we also went further south in search of Prietella lundbergi, which we knew at the time was being described on the basis of a single specimen. After three cave diving attempts at the spring where recreational cave divers literally stumbled upon that one specimen that they took to the fish guys in their home town at Florida State University, we eventually found blindcats not too far north of the type locality at Nacimiento del Río Frio. Surprising, since that's right in the middle of the range of the incredibly well studied blind cave Astyanax, making us wonder how all of those working on that species had missed it. Our precious new specimens quickly landed in the field for liquid Nitrogen for DNA studies, and at the time we had little doubt - being so close to the type locality, they just had to be P. lundbergi. Their DNA surprised us, though, and our publication on that pointed out they should probably not even be in the genus Prietella. Unfortunately, the holotype of P. lundbergi was preserved in formalin, so we have no DNA from it, and the DNA results made us want to know more about its morphology than could be discerned from that one precious specimen. Our first attempts to CT-scan the holotype, in the early days of that technology, were not very productive - not enough resolution in the CT data back then. But, with the amazing results from our more recent work on the CT scans of Satan, it was clear we needed to try again. Wow! The new high resolution CT-scans of both the holotype and the largest of the four specimens from Nacimiento del Río Frio are pretty amazing and our first quick inspection of them has us diving in deeper (no pun intended). If our first impressions hold, Prietella lundbergi will likely end up in its own monotypic genus. The morphology revealed in those scans illustrates some synapomorphies with Prietella phreatophila, and a number of similarities to Satan, but many characters say it's not a member of that genus either. Stay tuned for more news about the relationship of Prietella lundbergi to the rest of the North American blincats.


Prietella lundbergi holotype