A newly found species of fish, the Gollum snakehead, Aenigmachanna gollum, was just recently discovered. Scientists believe this species of subterranean fish, although recently discovered, has been on the earth as long as the dinosaurs and evolved at least 109 million years ago. It is genetically distinct from other snakeheads worldwide. Due to so many distinct features of the Gollum snakehead fish, it has been put into its very own new family, Aenigmachannidae. Scientists have even claimed that the Gollum snakehead might be a living fossil due to the species being on the world and evolving 109 million years ago.
The genus Aenigmachanna is a species of subterranean fish native to Asia and is predatory freshwater fish. It is endemic to the state of Kerala in India, where the species was discovered during the Kerala floods in the year 2018. The species were washed out of their hidden aquifers habitat and into a paddy field in Oorakam of Kerala. The pictures were posted on social media by the locals. The social media pictures were noticed by the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies. As soon as the pictures were found, they prompted an inquiry into the new species. Among fish known from Kerala aquifers, this species is the eighth species found in the large, hidden ecosystem in the difficult habitat of Kerala.
Freshwater, underwater dwelling fish, lives in dark areas in water
Asia, specifically India
Gollum Fish Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a Gollum Fish?
The Gollum snakeheads are a type of subterranean species of fish.
What class of animal does a Gollum Fish belong to?
Gollum snakeheads are a part of the class of Actinopterygii in the family of Aenigmachannidae.
How many Gollum Fishes are there in the world?
As the species has been found just recently, there has not been much information on the Gollum snakehead. The new fish was just discovered in 2018 when the fish was found on the surface after the Kerala floods in India.
Where does a Gollum Fish live?
The Gollum snakeheads live isolated from the world and dwell in the dark undergrounds of the water bodies. They live in freshwater aquifers. They are said to remain mainly underground, away from human habitations.
What is a Gollum Fish's habitat?
The world has not seen the Gollum snakehead ever and did not know it existed up until 2018. The snakehead fish lives in the subterranean aquifers and comes to the surface only after heavy flooding of the water body. This new group of fishes are not at all evolved as they usually stay underground and are found in Asia and Africa. The family is not abundant in the subterranean aquifers of Africa. They are mostly found in India.
This group of Channa can thrive in low oxygen waters because of a special breathing organ that allows them to breathe air easily. They live in underground areas where there are caves made of stones.
Who does Gollum Fish live with?
The new species of Aenigmachanna is of Gondwanan lineage and are said to have survived the separation of India and Africa around 120 million years ago. The fish is mostly found underground and not much information has been found on the snakehead species. They are said to stay in a group and feed together.
How long does a Gollum Fish live?
The subterranean fish belongs to a family of fish called the dragon snakeheads. Snakeheads were found long back, but this species of the snakehead just found recently in the Indian subcontinent through social media has not much information on them yet. The average age of an adult Gollum fish is still unknown.
How do they reproduce?
Usually, snakeheads lay around 15000 eggs in a season, and that can be one to five times a year. The Gollum snakeheads care for their babies a lot and guard the floating eggs. This makes them a successful group of fish that protects each other. Female snakehead lays the eggs and the eggs hatch in one to two days. Like a family, both parents guard the eggs with their lives.
What is their conservation status?
It was found on the surface of a paddy field in the state of Kerala in India, after the floods in 2018. The conservation status has not been put in danger yet until the research on the snakehead fishes is complete.
Gollum Fish Fun Facts
What does Gollum Fish look like?
Evolved 109 million years ago, this subterranean fish called the Gollum snakehead has some distinctive features which keep them apart from other snakeheads. The Discovery of the Aenigmachanna fishes was carried out by Ralf Britz, V.K. Anoop, Neelesh Dahanukar, and Rajeev Raghavan, and they also laid out the information on the fish in their article. Rajeev, an assistant professor at the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, saw the news and social media post and immediately sent it to Ralf Britz. Ralf Britz then came to the Indian continent to collect the specimen and later identified it as a new species of snakehead fishes. Ralf Britz and his group described the Gollum fish as a snakeheads species with an incredibly long body, like an eel. The snakeheads have numerous scales along their body, a very long anal fin running along their belly and tail and the family of fish has lost the ability to maintain buoyancy in the water column. They have organs that allow them to breathe air deep underwater.
The Gollum snakeheads have a slender body-colored cinnamon-brown uniformly. They do not possess long canine teeth unlike other snakeheads in the family. Its swim bladder is shorter than other snakeheads. The swim bladder is an internal gas-filled organ that helps the fishes stay afloat in water. Unlike the other family of snakeheads, the Gollum snakehead is still primitive in its evolution.
How cute are they?
They are not considered as cute as a whole, but fishes are beautiful in their swimming technique and graceful in every sense.
How do they communicate?
Fishes communicate by moving their tails and body usually and also by sounds that are low frequency and cannot be heard by humans.
How big is a Gollum Fish?
The average length of a Gollum fish has been found to be between 3.9- 4.7 in (10-12 cm). On average, other fishes in their group grow up to 47 in. Gollum fish is much smaller in this regard.
How fast can a Gollum Fish swim?
Given that this fish was only recently discovered, the speed at which it can swim is not known.
How much does a Gollum Fish weigh?
Although the weight of a Gollum fish has not been established yet, an average snakehead fish weighs around 15 lb. The largest-ever snakehead fish found is 44 lb.
What are their male and female names of the species?
Males and females of the species have not been given different names and are called by their scientific name of Aenigmachanna gollum.
What would you call a baby Gollum Fish?
A baby Gollum fish is known by the name of juvenile.
What do they eat?
As the Gollum snakeheads have not been researched quite extensively yet, there is not much information on their feeding habits. Usually, snakeheads feed on insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and small birds.
Are they poisonous?
The Gollum fish is not poisonous. They are usually very shy even in captivity but can act aggressively around their eggs.
Would they make a good pet?
The Gollum snakehead fish has just been recently discovered and not much is known about this fish. After the Kerala floods in 2018 in India, this fish washed up the shore in a paddy field, after which the research has started. So keeping them as a pet is out of the picture. The snakeheads also live deep underwater, without any human contact, so catching them is also a tricky issue.
Did you know...
Fishes that stay deep in caves and underground habitats are known as subterranean fish.
The Gollum snakehead or its Tolkienesque name Dragon snakehead was found in 2018 floating during Kerala floods into a paddy field.
The species was named after the character Gollum from J. R. R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' book series. The character was also cave-dwelling, similar to our new species and hence, the name. Who can forget the character Gollum eating fish raw in 'The Lord of the Rings' movies! Gollum was one of the main characters in the Lord of the Rings franchise, which made the officials name this subterranean fish after the character.
The Gollum snakehead has a sister species called Mahabali snakehead, and both of them are said to dwell in underground freshwater aquifers connected to paddy fields in the Western Ghats of Kerala in India. The freshwater fish species have been studied extensively by scientists from India, Germany, UK, and Switzerland. But as the species was just found in 2018, the research is still going on and not much information has been found yet.
It is estimated that there are almost 32000 species of fish in the world. Many new ones are getting discovered like the Gollum fish.
Do they bite?
These fishes stay away from human contact and hence there are no cases of the Gollum fish biting anyone.
Do humans eat them?
Although the Gollum snakehead fish has not been found abundantly yet, many other snakehead fishes of the family are consumed by humans. The meat of these fishes is expensive and is firm, white, and flaky. This combination lets humans prepare their food in many different ways.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including warmouth and tetra.
You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our realistic fish coloring pages.
*Please note, the main image is of a snakehead fish in general. If you have a picture of a Gollum fish, please let us know!
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