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Five new fish species discovered in Bhutan

The fishes – parachiloglanis drukyulensis, parachiloglanis benjii, parachiloglanis dangmechhuensis, exostoma mangdechhuensis, and creteuchiloglanis bumdelingensis were discovered through a study conducted by Ryan J Thoni, a PhD candidate from Saint Luis University, USA and DB Gurung (PhD) Professor at the College of Natural Resources.

The fishes belong to torrent catfish group.

Although the new species are endemic to Bhutan today, since many northeast Indian states such as Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh share similar geophysical characteristics, it is possible that some of the species may occur in the neighboring states of India as well, DB Gurung said.

He said that to celebrate Bhutan’s commitment to nature conservation and sustainable development, the new species parachiloglanis drukyulensis  was named in honour of Bhutan also known as Drukyul. “This helps to remind us that Bhutan is a more recent and modern name being  accepted by the world, but Drukyul—the original name of Bhutan, should not be buried in history.”

The study stated that the new species parachiloglanis benjii was named to honour Dasho Paljor Jigme Dorji popularly known as Dasho Benji for his contribution in nature protection. This species is widely distributed in Bhutan.

While parachiloglanis dangmechhuensis was named after Dangmechhu as this species is mostly confined to Dangmechhu and its tributaries, exostoma mangdechhuensis was named after Mangdechhu where the species is distributed in its natural habitat.

DB Gurung said that creteuchiloglanis bumdelingensis species of fish was named after Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, another hub of biological diversity.

The five new species were discovered using morphometric and molecular studies.

He said that due to long peer review process that required approval by scientists working in same thematic area outside Bhutan, the study that began in 2013 could only be completed this year.

He said that because morphometric study alone was insufficient to name many biological species these days, molecular study had to be incorporated. “The latter facility was not available in Bhutan until recently so the study had to be done in collaboration with researcher from outside Bhutan.”

The researchers were also challenged with lack of fund for academic research.

Currently, there are about 123 species of fishes recorded from Bhutan.

The list however has to be revised based on scientific study backed by molecular evidences.

Phurpa Lhamo

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