Horaglanis populi

Researchers in southern India have made a fascinating discovery after a six-year-long survey for signs of subterranean creatures. They found a new species of subterranean catfish, which they named Horaglanis populi. This creature dwells only in underground aquifers, and encounters with them are often by chance. Researchers used several methods to locate the subterranean catfish, including draining wells and water tanks, searching wetlands, gardens, and plantations, and putting out bait traps in caves.

Unique Characteristics of Horaglanis populi

Horaglanis populi is a tiny, blind, and pigmentless catfish with no eyes and blood-red coloring. Genetic analysis showed that it was genetically much different from all the other known species. However, it is not morphologically different from other subterranean catfish, making genetic barcoding the only way to distinguish it from other species.

The Significance of the Discovery

The discovery of Horaglanis populi is significant because it shows that the diversity of subterranean fish species is still underestimated. This new species was found in several Kerala towns, including Malapally, Edanadu, Chengannur, and Thiruvanvandoor, in southern India, about 1,200 miles south of New Delhi. The name Horaglanis populi means “people,” honoring the citizen scientists who contributed to its identification. The genetic distance between Horaglanis populi and other known catfish species is about 13% to 17%.



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