A new fish has been discovered in the Amazon. Arapaima are fresh water fish that live in the Amazon River. They grow extremely large and can be up to 15 feet long. For over 100 years, scientist have believed that only one species of arapaima existed. This recent discovery proves them wrong and leads many to wonder how many other new animal species are waiting to be discovered.
“Everybody for 160 years had been saying there’s only one kind of arapaima,” Donald Stewart, a professor in the department of environmental and forest biology at the State University of New York in Syracuse, said in a statement. “But we know now there are various species, including some not previously recognized. Each of these unstudied giant fishes needs conservation assessment.”
Arapaima are a popular commercial fish in Brazil and other parts of the Amazon. Now that the new species has been discovered, scientists are worried that it may need protection. The fishing regulations in Brazil are lenient and many types of fish are moved from one body of water to another and used to stock various ponds and lakes. If these unidentified species travel, they can disturb an ecosystem, causing devastating effects.
It is hard to know how many fish of this species are living and whether or not they are found in other areas of Brazil. The more scientist study this new species, the more they will be able to help it and other Arapaima fish prosper. The new species can also be compared to the other Arapaima species to see how they are alike and what makes them different. It may even lead to the discovery of more species of Arapaima in the near future.
The new discovery means there are now five known species of arapaima. The newly discovered species is on display in a public aquarium in the Ukraine, where it was identified as Arapaima gigas.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.