Scientists from the Smithsonian and other partner organizations have found an extremely primitive conger eel in the reefs on the coast of the Republic of Palau. This fish is characterized by a lot of simple anatomical features that are not typical of the other 19 families and more than 800 species of marine eels, which allowed to classify it as a new species belonging to a new genus and family. The study was published by a research team of on-line in "Proceedings of the Royal Society".
Many physical characteristics of this new genus and species of eel, Protoanguilla palau, reflect its relationship to 19 families Anguiliformes (true eels) that live today. Other, more primitive physical traits, such as a second upper jaw bone (intermaxillary bone) and the length of the spine (vertebrae less than 90) were detected only in samples of fossils dating from the Cretaceous period (140 - 65 million years ago). Other features, such as a full set of teeth on the bony gill arches, is a common but missing feature for most bony fish, as in the fossil and living eels.
A full analysis of DNA metohondrialnogo made by the research team, indicates that the species P. acnes palau are members of an ancient, independent from the kind of evolutionary history comparable to a number of species of living and fossil eels.
"The prototype of this primitive eel fish may not have seen since the discovery of coelacanth (coelacanth) in 1930" - said Dave Johnson (Dave Johnson), ichthyologist at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute and senior author of the study. "We believe that such a long, independent evolutionary history dating back to the early Mesozoic (about 200 million years ago), the preservation of a few primitive anatomical features and apparently their restricted distribution makes eel recognize this kind of living fossil."
Anguilliformes, a separate group of bony fishes, began its existence about 100 million years ago, according to the information about resources. They eventually lost their pelvic fins, and their dorsal, anal and caudal fins are fused together. Live eels are very diverse and can be found in a variety of environments from the surface of coastal waters to the deep ocean waters.
"The discovery of this extraordinary and beautiful new species of eel suggests how much we have yet to learn about our planet" - said Johnson. "In addition, this finding calls for a strengthening of measures to preserve and protect rare species of marine animals, since this type of eel was found only among the 10 samples collected in a cave on the island nation of Palau."
Original: Sciencedaily Translation: M. Potter