Domain: EukaryaOphisternon infernale. A very close relative that due to convergence exhibits many of the same adaptations as Ophisternon candidum. Courtesy of Dr. Thomas M. Iliffe
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Synbranchiformes
Family: Synbranchidae
Genus: Ophisternon
Species: Ophisternon candidum 
(Department of the Environment, 2014)

The blind cave eel was first observed by Alf Snell in 1959. (Romero & Paulsen, 2001) The domain Eukarya is a large encompassing classification that covers any organism with eukaryotic cells. This means that the cells within the blind cave eel have both nuclei and membrane bound organelles. Kingdom Animalia is distinguished as multi-cellular heterotrophs. The phylum Chordata implies a dorsal nerve chord. Members of this phylum also exhibit a notochord and gill slits near the pharynx. The class actinopterygii are better known as the ray-finned fishes. This class is far and away the most successful class of fishes and vertebrates in general: they make up half of all vertebrates that are extant. This class covers an extremely broad and variable group of organisms that all meet the criteria of being a fish(what is criteria of being a fish?). ( Jonna, 2004) The order synbranchiformes is made up of organism that can be called(change wording) spiny eels. The defining characteristics of this order include an elongated body, a lack of pelvic fins, and the confinement of gill slits to the lower portion of the body. (Nelson, 1994) Members of the class Synbrachidae are more commonly known as swamp eels. ( Bray & Thomas, 2011) The members of this class are distinguishable by their lack of swim bladders, ribs, and nearly all fins. (Nelson, 1994) The scientific name Ophisternon candidum can be broken down into its two constituent terms. Ophisternon comes from the Greek word “ophis” which means serpent, a reference to the blind cave eels elongated body shape. The species epithet candidum comes from the Greek “candidus” which means white in reference to the blind cave eels unpigmented body. (Bray & Thomas, 2011) Thus Ophisternon candidum literally means white serpent, which is a fairly accurate description of the blind cave eel's morphological characteristics.Animalia Phylogeny

Kingdom Animalia
Figure 1. Phylogeny of Kingdom Animalia. Phylogenies such as this one are based off of evolutionary relatedness. The blind cave eel belongs to the phylum chordata. This phylum is separated from other non-sister taxa by undergoing deuterostome development. The characteristics separating chordata from echinodermata have been outlined above. This phylogeny only shows the nine major phyla. Kingdom Animalia actually includes forty phyla.

Family Synbranchidae
Figure 2. Phylogeny of the family Synbranchidae (swamp eels) From Pedices et al. This phylogeny is based off of molecular sequencing of the RAG-1 gene. The samples of the gene wereGenetic Phylogeny from Perdices et al. 2005 obtained from Ophisternon aenigmateicum from the Ophisternon clade and from several Synbrachus sps. This phylogeny establishes the strong division of the very morphologically similar Ophisternon and Synbrachus genera. These two representatives of the Synbranchidae are nearly morphologically identical and thus must be separated by genetic means.

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