William Owsley

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

L.Y. Lancaster, M.C. Ford, Gordon Wilson

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


As early as 1850 many reports of observations of the blind cave animals were made by both scientific and popular writers. Tellkempf, Agassiz, Forbes and Silliman were some of the earlier scientists who studied the eyes of cave animals. Eigenmann made a histological study of the cave vertebrates of America. In a study of Forbesichthys papilliferus, a semi-blind cave fish, Jennie Miller Orr found important structural modifications in the eyes of this species. Since no comparative histological studies of the eyes of cave animals seem to have been made, it was decided to make such a study with a view to determining whether these structural differences are similar in different cave animals.

The animals chosen for this study are: Hadenoecus subterraneous, the so-called cave cricket; Cambarus pellucidus, the blind cave crayfish; Forbesichthys papilliferus, the semi-blind cave fish and Typhlichthys subterraneous, a blind cave fish.

Eigenmann states that degeneration of eye tissue occurs in certain forms in the absence of light. A comparative histological study of the eyes of cave species and of those having normal eyes should reveal the nature of this degeneration.


Animal Sciences | Biology | Life Sciences | Other Animal Sciences