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New Species of Blind Catfish Discovered in South India

Dec 17, 2012 07:22 AM EST

Scientists have discovered a new species of blind catfish in southern India.

A team of researchers led by Bijoy Nandan, of Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), and Subash Babu, of Jimma University in Ethiopia, found the new species (photo) while studying organisms in a deep well located in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

The new species has been named Horaglanis abdulkalami, after the former Indian President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Horaglanis abdulkalami is just around 1.5 inches long and is bright red in color. It does not have eyes and feeds on small organic matter that thrives in the deep well.

The research team examined the new species using scanning electron microscope (SEM) and found that the catfish's skin, in particular its head, is covered in pores. This suggests that the fish species breathes through the skin as well as its gills, according to a report in

Experts are currently working to sequence the genome of the catfish in order to find out if the species is related to any other species in India or other countries.

"We gave done the basic morphology of the species, but we are still going into the molecular characterization to trace their ancestors and their evolutionary links," Dr. Bijoy Nandan told BBC.

Besides discovering a catfish, the same research team also identified a new species of blind eel. It has been named Monopterus trichurensis, after the Trichur district of Kerala where the species was found.

Researchers suggest that both the catfish and eel species could live for a couple of years. They are planning to further study the life span of both species.

They also insisted that both the species need to be listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threatened list, according to the BBC reports.

The findings of the study are published in the Indian science journal Samagra.

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