Tejas Thackeray and his fellow researchers discover new species of blind eels

Wildlife researcher Tejas Thackeray, the youngest son of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced on Thursday that he, along with three of his fellow researchers, have discovered a new species of blind eel which they named ‘Rakthamichtys mumba’ after Mumbadevi , the goddess from which Mumbai takes its name.

The new species is a hypogeal freshwater eel and the discovery is attributed to Tejas and his three friends and fellow researchers – Praveenraj Jaisimhan, Anil Mohapatra and Annam Pavan Kumar.

“Glad to present to you a species that we collected a few years ago and that we have worked on throughout the pandemic. A journey full of ups and downs, and today it finally sees the light of day. Introducing a new blind hypogeum freshwater eel from my city – Rakthamichtys mumba – the blind eel from Mumbai! Thackeray said in an Instagram post.

“This is the first species of completely blind underground freshwater fish to be described from Maharashtra and the Northwest Ghats,” he said, adding their study was published today in “Aqua International Journal of Ichthyology”.

He said the group decided to name the species after the local Mumbai deity. “The species name ‘mumba’ refers to the locality, the city of Mumbai. The word “mumba” has its roots in the Marathi language, which honors Mumba Aai, a deity worshiped by the inhabitants of this city. It is used as a name in apposition, ”he said.

“With a genetic distance of 21.6 to 22.8% from other known species of Rakthamicthys, it is the 5th species of the genus to be described in India. Hypogea and cave species and their habitat systems are so poorly studied and the data available to formulate conservation strategies are not sufficient. The level of endemism, the pattern of distribution, the biographical barriers causing speciation are factors we hardly know anything about, ”he said in the post.

Thackeray, who discovered and participated in the discovery of several new species, said: “A surreal species like this is a reminder to always stick to the basics, like the need to keep the water table below the ground. soil and help keep the aquifer clean. to help enigmatic beauties like these. Let’s not forget that we share this planet, with amazing creatures, big and small. Some are so cryptic that their very existence is a myth.

Thackeray had previously independently discovered one of the five new species of freshwater crab, which now bears his name – Gubernatoriana Thackerayi. He was part of the team that found these new species in the Western Ghats.

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Posted on: Thursday September 30th, 2021 11:23 PM IST

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