A team of UK and Indian scientists have discovered a brand new species of snakehead, a type of fish, from a paddy field in Kerala. And guess what, they have named it after JRR Tolkien’s famed creation from Lord of The Rings (LOTR), Gollum.
The findings, published in the international journal Zootaxa, state that the new species is physically and genetically distinct from all other snakehead species in the world.
The scientists have named the new snakehead species as the Gollum snakehead, with the scientific name Aenigmachanna Gollum
While, like other snakeheads, the new species too have an elongated cylindrical body, long fins and large scales on its head, some of its features are rather unusual. The body of the fish is unusually narrow in for a snakehead and it has a very muted colour when compared to the usually bright hues most snake-heads sport.
According to Dr Ralf Britz, a researcher at the Natural History Museum who co-authored the paper, having a snakehead from a subterranean habitat is an exciting find.
The scientist says that the find could mean either of two things, either the fish only acquired this subterranean mode of life recently, or it is living in some kind of transition zone where it is still moving between the underground and above ground habitats.
Snakeheads, much like their name suggests having heads that sport large scales, giving them a rather snake-like appearance.
Snakeheads are known to be an invasive species and are considered to be one of the eight (out of a list of 329) invasives in the European Union that pose a “very high” overall threat to biodiversity and ecosystems there.