Scientists in India have discovered a strange fish resembling a snake. They call the primitive creature a living fossil. Eel-like fish live in the groundwater of southern India.

New Snakehead Fish Species

The body like a snake, the head like a snake, the skin like a snake – when we put it all together, we can see snakehead fish. Its appearance resembles a dragon or a snake. There are only two species from this family, the Gollum snakehead and the Dragon snakehead.

Photo credit: Ralf Britz YouTube

Snakehead fish live in the soil, in groundwater, in layers of moist, porous rock. They climb to the surface during heavy rains, so these species of fish are rarely seen.

In southern India in the Western Ghats, scientists have discovered ten fish species living in groundwater so far. The Indians draw water for their needs from about six million wells. This human factor can lead to groundwater species treatment. Some may have become extinct before they were discovered.

Mysterious Living Fossils

The story began in early 2018 when someone shared a photo of a fish on a social network. Researcher Rajeev Raghavan, the co-author study and fish researcher at Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, noticed the photo. Raghavan and Birtz began collecting samples to determine the type of strange fish.

Photo credit: Ralf Britz YouTube

In May 2019, scientists identified a new species and genus — the Gollum snakehead (Aenigmachanna Gollum). “We think it’s the most exciting discovery in the world of fish in decades,” said Britz, lead author of a study recently published in Scientific Reports.

A living fossil is a species or genus that bears several prehistoric features to this day. A species remains alone in the world from an initially large group when all its related species became extinct. These species, we often know from fossils.