New species of Macrognathus genus reported from Kerala after 150 years

Researchers from central Kerala have reported the discovery of a new species of fish belonging to the spiny eel variety from the Manimala river.

Named Macrognathus fasciatus, the new species is characterised by a combination of dorsal spines, yellow vertical lines on the lateral sides interspersed with small whitish yellow round spots in a row and a small round black spot at the base of the pectoral and caudal fin. It is blackish brown at the back and yellow at the ventral side while the lateral sides are dark brown.

Eel-like fishes with elongated and compressed body, spiny eels are found in inland water bodies across India.

Three species have been recorded from Kerala.

The specimens of M. fasciatus were collected from the Manimala river at Karuthavadasserikara by Mathews Plamoottil, Assistant Professor in Zoology, Government College, Chavara.

Taxonomic analysis carried out in collaboration with Nelson P. Abraham, St. Thomas College, Kozhencherry, confirmed that the specimens from the Manimala river belonged to a new species.

The discovery has been reported in the latest edition of the ‘Journal of Experimental Zoology,’ an international science publication. The epithet fasciatus was adopted from the Latin language and means `banded,’ referring to the vertical stripes present on the lateral sides of the body of the new fish.

Mr. Mathews said the new species and the research work related to it had been approved by the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature and registered at the Zoo Bank. The specimens have been deposited in the museum of the Zoological Survey of India at Kozhikode.

Highlighting the significance of the discovery, Mr. Mathews said a new species of the Macrognathus genus was being reported from Kerala after a gap of 150 years.