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ZSI scientists discover a new species of snake eel in Odisha

The new species is named 'Ophichthus Suryai' to honour Surya Kumar Mohanty, former joint director of state fishery department, the official said.
Last Updated : 16 June 2024, 09:43 IST

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Berhampur: Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India's (ZSI) regional centre at Gopalpur in Odisha's Ganjam district have discovered a new species of snake eel from different estuarine ecosystems in the state, an official said.

The new species is named 'Ophichthus Suryai' to honour Surya Kumar Mohanty, former joint director of state fishery department, the official said.

At least six specimens have been collected from the Subarnarekha river at Talasara in Balasore district, Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district and Bahuda river near Sunapur in Ganjam district at different times last year.

"After conducting deep studies and various tests, including DNA at the ZSI's laboratory, we confirm that it was a new species," said Anil Mohapatra, senior scientist, Estuarine Biology Regional Centre (EBRC) of ZSI, Gopalpur.

The new species can be distinguished from its closely allied congeners Ophichthus alleni, Ophichthus zophistius, and Ophichthus altipennis, and other members in this genus by having the dorsal fin origin (DFO) just above or slightly anterior to the gill opening, its unique vertebral count and teeth patterns consisting of multiple rows on both maxilla and mandible, said Mohapatra, who led the discovery.

He said on initial examination, they were found to belong to the genus Ophichthus. Examination of morphological, meristic, and molecular characters confirmed the specimens are unique and described as a new species, he added.

The detailed characteristics of this new species of Ophichthus Suryai were published in the Bulletin of Marine Science, an international journal on its latest edition of June 13 this year.

Mohapatra was one of the co-authors in the research paper published in the journal. The other authors of the research paper are Rajesh Kumar Behera, Subhendu Kumar Mishra and Smrutirekha Acharya.

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Published 16 June 2024, 09:43 IST

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