Scientists at the Smithsonian and partnering organizations have discovered a remarkably primitive eel in a fringing reef off the coast of the Republic of Palau. This fish exhibits many primitive anatomical features unknown in the other 19 families and more than 800 species of living eels, resulting in its classification as a new species belonging to a new genus and family. The team's research is published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Aug. 17.
Scientists at the Smithsonian and partnering organizations have discovered a remarkably primitive eel in a fringing reef off the coast of the Republic of Palau. This fish exhibits many primitive anatomical features unknown in the other 19 families and more than 800 species of living eels, resulting in its classification as a new species belonging to a new genus and family. Credit: Jiro Sakaue
Anguilliformes, a distinct group of bony fishes, first appeared in the fossil record about 100 million years ago. They eventually lost their pelvic fins, and their dorsal, anal and caudal fins became continuous. Living eels are very diverse and can be found in a large variety of habitats—from shallow coastal waters to the deep open ocean.
"The discovery of this extraordinary and beautiful new species of eel underscores how much more there is to learn about our planet," Johnson said. "Furthermore, it brings home the critical importance of future conservation efforts—currently this species is known from only 10 specimens collected from a single cave in Palau."
John Gibbons | EurekAlert!
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