Journal Article

The world’s largest cave fish from Meghalaya, Northeast India, is a new species, Neolissochilus pnar (Cyprinidae, Torinae)

Dahanukar, N., Sundar, R.L., Rangad, D., Proudlove, G. and Raghavan, R.

Record Number:
Vertebrate Zoology
Copyright Neelesh Dahanukar et al. An open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided credit is given
The world’s largest subterranean fish was discovered in 2019, and was tentatively identified as a troglomorphic form of the golden mahseer, Tor putitora. Detailed analyses of its morphometric and meristic data, and results from molecular analyses now reveal that it is a new species of the genus Neolissochilus, the sister taxon of Tor. We formally describe the new species as Neolissochilus pnar, honouring the tribal communities of East Jaintia hills in Meghalaya, Northeast India, from where it was discovered. Neolissochilus pnar possesses a number of characters unique among species of Neolissochilus, with the exception of the similarly subterranean N. subterraneus from Thailand. The unique characters that diagnose N. pnar from all epigean congeners comprise highly reduced eye size to complete absence of externally visible eyes, complete lack of pigmentation, long maxillary barbels, long pectoral-fin rays, and scalation pattern. Neolissochilus pnar is distinguished from the hypogean N. subterraneus, the type locality of which is a limestone cave ~2000 kms away in Central Thailand, by a lesser pre-pelvic length (47.8–49.4 vs. 50.5–55.3 %SL), a shorter caudal peduncle (16.1–16.8 vs. 17.8–23.7 %SL), and shorter dorsal fin (17.4–20.8 vs. 21.5–26.3 %SL). In addition, Neolissochilus pnar is also genetically and morphologically distinct from its close congeners with a raw genetic divergence of 1.1–2.7% in the COI gene with putative topotype of N. hexastichus and 2.1–2.6% with putative topotype of N. hexagonolepis. Keywords Eastern Himalaya, limestone cave, mahseer, new species, subterranean fishes
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