Thursday 18 August 2011

living fossil discovered

New Pacific eel is a 'living fossil', scientists say
By Paul Rincon Science editor, BBC News website
A newly discovered eel that inhabits an undersea cave in the Pacific Ocean has been dubbed a "living fossil" because of its primitive features. It is so distinct, scientists created a new taxonomic family to describe its relationship to other eels. The US-Palauan-Japanese team say the eel's features suggest it has a long and independent evolutionary history stretching back 200m years.Details appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The animal used as the basis for the new study was an 18cm-long female, collected by one of the researchers during a dive at a 35m-deep cave in the Republic of Palau. But the scientists also mention other examples of the new eel species in their research paper.At first there was much discussion among the researchers about the animal's affinities. But genetic analysis confirmed that the fish was a "true" eel - albeit a primitive one."In some features it is more primitive than recent eels, and in others, even more primitive than the oldest known fossil eels, suggesting that it represents a 'living fossil' without a known fossil record," write the scientists.In order to classify the new animal, the researchers had to create a new family, genus and species, bestowing on the animal the latin name Protoanguilla palau.

This has implications for  those who believe lake creatures are giant eels. One unknown eel found means more may yet to be  discovered .

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