Aenigmachanna gollum

Britz, Anoop, Dahanukar and Raghavan 2019



Aenigmachanna mahabali  Kumar, Basheer and Ravi 2019

See Raghaven et al. (2022) for a discussion of this synonymy.




Holotype: BNHS FWF 966 90.2mm SL. Paratype: BNHS FWF 967 80.1mm SL


Type locality: Oorakam, Malappuram, Kerala, India (11o03'52"N, 76o01'00"E).

Also known from (Raghavan et al. 2022):



Not known. The fishes were collected from a flooded paddy field and the actual habitat has not been discovered.


In the original description of this genus and species (Britz et al. 2019) it was shown that it was considerably divergent from the genera Channa and Parachanna under a cox1 analysis. Further work has shown conclusively that the genus and its two known species are so divergent as to require a new Family to contain them - Aenigmachannidae Britz, Dahanukar, Anoop, Philip, Clark, Raghavan and Ruber 2020. A COI sequence shows a 12.3% distance bewtween A. gollum and the only other species in the genus A. mahabali (Kumar et al. 2019). This is not surprising given the distance between type localities (over 200km), and the presence of a major biogeographic barrier, the Palghat Gap, between them.

Biological Notes

Nothing known.

Conservation Status


Museum Holdings

As above only.

Internet Resources

National Geographic article about the new Family

Zoobank registration for Aenigmachanna mahabali

Video 1  Rahul Kumar

Video 2  Rahul Kumar

Key References

Kader, P.B.A. Thesis 1993 Fishes and fisheries of inland waters of Thrissur district, Kerala
Ranjit Daniels, R.J. Journal Article 2001 Endemic fishes of the Western Ghats and the Satpura hypothesis
Biju, S.D. and Bossuyt, F. Journal Article 2003 New frog family from India reveals an ancient biogeographical link with the Seychelles
Bossuyt, F., Meegaskumbura, M., Beenaerts, N., Gower, D.J., Pethiyagoda, R., Roelants, K., Mannaert, A., Wilkinson, M., Bahir, M.M., Manamendra-Arachchi, K., Ng, P.K.L., Schneider, C.K., Oommen, O.V. and Milinkovitch, M.C. Journal Article 2004 Local endemism within the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot
Roelants, K., Jiang, J. and Bossuyt, F. Journal Article 2004 Endemic ranid (Amphibia: Anura) genera in southern mountain ranges of the Indian subcontinent represent ancient frog lineages: evidence from molecular data
Gunawardene, N.R. et al. Journal Article 2007 A brief overview of the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot
Subhash Babu, K.K. and Sivasankaran, B.N. Conference Paper 2010 The hypogean fauna of selected ecosystems of Kerala, India, with two new records
Conte-Grand, C., Britz, R., Dahanukar, N., Raghavan, R., Pethiyagoda, R., Tan, H.H., Hadiaty, R.K., Yaakob, N.S. and Ruber, L. Journal Article 2017 Barcoding snakeheads (Teleostei, Channidae) revisited: Discovering greater species diversity and resolving perpetuated taxonomic confusions
Varma, A. Book 2017 Groundwater resource and governance in Kerala: status issues and prospects
Britz, R., Anoop, V.K., Dahanukar, H. and Raghavan, R. Journal Article 2019 The subterranean Aenigmachanna gollum, a new genus and species of snakehead (Teleostei: Channidae) from Kerala, India
Kumar, R.G., Basheer, V.S. and Ravi, C. Journal Article 2019 Aenigmachanna mahabali, a new species of troglophilic snakehead (Pisces: Channidae) from Kerala, India
Rüber, L., Tan, H.H. and Britz, R. Journal Article 2019 Snakehead (Teleostei: Channidae) diversity and the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot
Anoop, V.K., Britz, R., Arjun, C.P., Dahanukar, N. and Raghavan, R. Journal Article 2019 Pangio bhujia, a new, peculiar species of miniature subterranean eel loach lacking dorsal and pelvic fins from India (Teleostei: Cobitidae)
Britz, R., Dahanukar, N., Anoop, V.K., Philip, S., Clark, B., Raghavan, R. and Rüber, L. Journal Article 2020 Aenigmachannidae, a new family of snakehead fishes (Teleostei: Channoidei) from subterranean waters of South India
Sidharthan, A., Raghavan, R., Anoop, V.K., Philip. S. and Dahanukar, N. Journal Article 2020 Riddle on the riffle: Miocene diversification and biogeography of endemic mountain loaches in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot
Raghavan, R., Britz, R. and Dahanukar, N. Journal Article 2021 Poor groundwater governance threatens ancient subterranean fishes
Raghavan, R., Dahanukar, N., Anoop, V.K., Arjun, C.P. and Britz, R. Journal Article 2022 Diversity and distribution of dragon snakeheads of the family Aenigmachannidae, and the identity of Aenigmachanna mahabali