A ‘piscean’ back from oblivion

Freshwater fish rediscovered from Thrissur after 150 years

December 29, 2017 12:52 am | Updated 12:52 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

A freshwater fish reported from Thrissur in the 19th century and believed to be extinct since then, has been rediscovered after more than 150 years.

The significant finding by Mathews Plamoottil, Head, Department of Zoology, Government College, Chavara, Kollam, has been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Zoological Researches .

It was in 1865 that British scientist Francis Day reported a new species from the Karavannoor river in Thrissur district and named it Gobius malabaricus . Since then, no specimen had been from anywhere in the State, leading scientists to conclude that it had become extinct in its natural habitat.

In the meantime, a taxonomic ambiguity led to the classification of G.malabaricus as a species belonging to the genus Stenogobius .

“The taxonomic ambiguity and the absence of reliable specimens of the species were major hurdles to establishing the identity of the specimens,” says Dr.Mathews.

The fish is brownish yellow with vertical bands on the sides and brown fins sporting black spots. The dorsal fin is characterised by a black crescent mark at the base bordered by curved black and white bands.

The four specimens collected by Dr.Mathews from the Karavannoor river were found to have features coinciding with those described by Francis Day. The paper establishes that G.malabaricus can be synonymised with Stenogobius macropterus . The specimens have been deposited at the museum of the Zoological Survey of India at Chennai.

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