New species of blind freshwater eel discovered in Mumbai

New species of blind freshwater eel has been by four scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).

Highlights

  • Eel species was discovered from a well in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • As per scientists, eel is a blind freshwater hypogean.
  • This is the first such discovered species from Maharashtra and Northern western Ghats.

About Blind Eel

  • Species has been named as ‘Rakthamichtys mumba’ to pay tribute to the city it was found in.
  • Newly discovered freshwater bright-pink coloured species is completely blind and a subterranean freshwater fish.
  • The blind eel has a genetic distance of 21.6 – 22.8% as compared to other known species of Rakthamicthys genus.
  • This is the 5th species from Rakthamicthys genus to have originated from India.

How this species was discovered?

The species was discovered by four scientists namely, Anil Mohapatra, Tejas Thackeray, Praveenraj Jayasimhan and Annam Pavan Kumar. This discovery is the most remarkable one till date. Scientists had collected the hypogean species a few years ago. They continued working on it, even in the ongoing covid-19 pandemic situation.

Significance of the discovery

According to scientists, an extensive study regarding the species and habitat systems of the Hypogean and cavernicolus would help in formulating conservation strategies for the species. Factors such as distribution pattern, level of endemism, biographic barriers causing speciation can also be studied now.

Rakthamichthys Mumba

One of the scientists, Anil Mohapatra, is also among the co-authors of ‘Rakthamichthys mumba’ that was published in Aqua International Journal of Ichthyology. The word ‘mumba’ has been derived from the Marathi language to honours a deity worshipped in Mumbai called “Mumba Aai”.

About Rakthamichthys

It is a genus of swamp eels and are endemic to India. Three species are known from Western Ghats while one is known from Northeast India. These species live underground. One species is having a fossorial lifestyle while three species are troglobitic in nature.

 

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