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Still Waters

New family of snakehead fish discovered

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Still Waters

RESEARCHERS HAVE DISCOVERED a new family of eel-like fish, named dragon snakeheads, which live in underground waters in southern India. These primitive fish are a type of “living fossil” and may have diverged from their nearest relatives more than a hundred million years ago.

Discovering a new family of fish—the taxonomic category above genus and species—is very uncommon, says study leader Ralf Britz, an ichthyologist at Senckenberg Natural History Collections, part of the Museum of Zoology in Dresden, Germany. Taxonomic families are often large and diverse; For example, the human family, Hominidae, includes chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas.

This family includes only two species, one of which is named the Gollum snakehead, after the subterranean Lord of the Rings character.

“We think this is the most exciting discovery in the fish world of the last decade,” says Britz, lead author of a study published recently in Scientific Reports.



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