The Arapaima species are one of the world’s largest, most mysterious – and most endangered – species of fish in the world. Now, researchers believe they have discovered a brand new species of Arapaima.
The elusive fish can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 440 pounds, and can also breath air via a primitive lung. They usually are found in oxygen depleted waters.
National Geographic explorer Donald J Stewart with L. Cynthia Watson and Annette M. Kretzer have published new research indicating strong genetic evidence for a new, unknown species of Arapaima, found in several locations in Southwestern Guyana.
Their findings are based on a specimen discovered way back in 2001, which turned out to be very distinctly different to other species of Arapaima found in the same region.
The genetic markers of the fish indicate that they have not interbred with other groups of the fish in a long time.
“If you have two types of fish swimming along together but not interbreeding that’s pretty good evidence they are new species,” Stewart explains. “But we still have to work out the details.”
Stewart is confident that there are many other distinct species in other parts of the animals range, and is going to be working towards discovering them.
“I think we’ll have many more species before we’re done,” he says.