Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Gollum is Real and He’s a Fish

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Crazy biologists (myself included) have a long history of being nerds and naming species after nerdy things. There’s a fish named Iago, the villain in Shakespeare’s Othello – not the parrot. There’s a genius of extinct trilobite named after China’s largest ethnic group, Han, so of course someone named a species Han solo. There’s Godzilla’s ancestor, the Gojirasaurus quayi. And now… there’s Gollum!

Gollum the snakehead fish.

Aenigmachanna gollum is a newly described species of snakehead. Snakehead fish were famously a big issue a few years ago when the larger, less Lord-of-the-Ringsy species were invading US lakes and eating everything. A. golllum is less dangerous and more fascinating.

Dr. Ralf Britz of the Natural History Museum in the UK and his team found this species after floods in Kareala, India.

Gollum – the fish – spends it’s life just like Gollum the former Hobbit named Smeagol did: in underground caves. Strangely, A. gollum doesn’t have many adaptations you’d normally find for animals living in underground cave systems throughout India. It isn’t colorless, blind, slow, or tiny, all adaptations you tend to find in many of the hundreds of species that live strictly underground.

No word on if A. gollum has any obsessions with precious rings.

What’s your favorite weird animal species? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!

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