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The reduction and/or disappearance of phenotypic features is a biological phenomenon that has intrigued humans ever since prehistoric times. The earliest known anthropological representation of a creature showing the loss of phenotypic features dates back to ca. 22,000 YBP (Upper Paleolithic). It is a carved drawing of a wingless cave cricket, Troglophilus sp., on a bison (Bison bonasus) bone found in the Grotte des Trois Frères (Three Brothers Cave) in the central Pyrénées, France. Since then, we have witnessed how the study of organisms living in lightless environments went through a number of scientific historical periods. First was the age of exploration that characterized the Renaissance (ca. 1450–1650) in Europe and the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in China, followed by the inclusion of these organisms into list of species and Bbestiaries,^ to using them as proof of Lamarckian ideas about Buse and disuse^ (an idea accepted by Darwin himself and his followers, particularly in North America and France), to more modern interpretations espousing evolutionary concepts established during the Modern Synthesis, to the evo-devo explanations being provided more recently (for a historical study of these biological thoughts see Romero 2009).


This work was originally published in Environmental Biology of Fishes, available at DOI: 10.1007/s10641-016-0487-8.

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