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New Species of Giant Fish Relative of the Arapaima Discovered in The Amazon

Arapaima the giant air breathing fresh water fish that lurks in dark amazon waters was recently identified by scientist as having more than 1 subspecies.

Everybody for 160 years had been saying there’s only one kind of arapaima. But we know now there are various species, including some not previously recognized. Each of these unstudied giant fishes needs conservation assessment,” said Dr. Donald Stewart of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), who made the discovery. The discovery was reported in a paper Stewart recently published in the journal

It’s hard to mistake an arapaima for anything else: these massive, heavily-armored, air-breathing fish (they have to surface every few minutes) are the megafauna of the Amazon’s rivers. But despite their unmistakability, and the fact that they have been hunted by indigenous people for millennia, scientists still know relatively little about arapaima, including just how many species there are. Since the mid-Nineteenth Century, scientists have lumped all arapaima into one species: Arapaima gigas. However, two studies in Copeia split the arapaimas into at least five total species—and more may be coming.

In the most recent study, researcher Donald Stewart with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), describes an entirely new species of arapaima based on a specimen held in the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da AmazĂ´nia in Brazil. Dubbed Arapaima leptosoma, the new species is more slender than Arapaima gigas and possesses other important physical differences.

 new species of arapaima: Arapaima leptosoma. This species is housed at Sevastopol Sea Aquarium in the Ukraine, but long conflated with Arampaima gigas. Photo by: George Chernilevsky.

Arapaima leptosoma. This species is housed at Sevastopol Sea Aquarium in the Ukraine, but long conflated with Arampaima gigas. Photo by: George Chernilevsky.

 

A giant hiding in plain sight!



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One comment

  1. Its incredible that this fish was found. Everybody for 160 years had said that there has been only one kind arapaima. Now they have found another. Incredible. It makes you wonder what other animals have yet to be found.

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