Finding shines light on diversity of riverine life in Kerala

Researchers from Government College, Chavara, and St. Thomas College, Kozhencherry, have reported the discovery of a new species of fish from the Manimala river, bringing to light the abundant diversity of riverine life in Kerala.

The species, named Puntius viridis, belongs to the barb variety, and is characterised by a row of prominent elongated black spots on the middle of the dorsal fin and a black band of dark spots on the bony flap covering the gills. Mathews Plamoottil, Assistant Professor of Zoology, Government College, Chavara, chanced upon the species during an exploratory visit to collect fish from the river at Kallumkal, near Thiruvalla, as part of his research work.

“Realising that this one species in the collection bore no resemblance to any others I had come across so far, I decided to go in for detailed taxonomic analysis of the eight specimens collected from Kallumkal,” Mr. Mathews said. He later teamed up with Nelson P. Abraham of St. Thomas College, Kozhencherry, for the University Grants Commission-funded research project. Comparison with other known species in the genus collected from rivers in Central Kerala and West Bengal revealed that it was a hitherto undiscovered variety.

The finding has been published in the January 18 edition of the Journal of Research in Biology, an international publication.

An edible species, Puntius viridis is silvery green in colour. The species name comes from the Latin word viridis meaning green. According to the published paper, Puntius viridis usually inhabits deep and wide sections of the river with low flow.

The authors have recommended further research to unveil more biological aspects of the species.

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