New fish species discovered in Manipur

Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a new species of catfish, Glyptothorax senapatiensis, in the Chindwin river drainage in Senapati district of Manipur. The people of the region have been having the six-cm-long freshwater fish as food for long, calling it Ngapang.

“It is a small but edible fish with high nutritional value and a lot of oil content,” ZSI scientist Laishram Kosygin told The Hindu. The fish has a thoracic adhesive apparatus that helps it cling on to the rocky riverbed in mountains against strong currents. All Glyptothorax-genus fish have this characteristic.

Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, an international journal published from Germany, recorded the new species in March, with Mr. Kosygin, Nongthombam Premananda and Bano Saidullah authoring the paper.

Scientists say the Northeast has a rich aquatic biodiversity, with 361 of the 816 fish species found in India present there. Several important species of catfish, a diverse group of ray-finned fish with prominent barbells resembling cat whiskers, are found there.

Manipur has a high diversity of aquatic fauna because of the two important river drainage systems. “The western half is fed by the Barak-Brahmaputra drainage and the eastern and central valleys are crisscrossed by the Chindwin river drainage, and these account for the variety in the aquatic fauna,” Mr. Kosygin said.

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