New earthworm eel species gets name

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London-based ichthyologist Ralf Britz has described a new species of earthworm eel from Myanmar in a recent issue of the journal Zootaxa.

The new earthworm eel is named Chaudhuria ritvae after his wife (Ritva Roesler), who helped collect the type series. 

Chaudhuria ritvae, known from the lower Irrawaddy River drainage in southern Myanmar.

The type locality is a pool with dense aquatic vegetation and a muddy substrate.  The water was clear with a temperature of 29°C and pH of 7.1.  

As the type locality lies within the area struck by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, it is expected that the pool (and by extension the populations of the earthworm eel) would have been considerably affected by it.

It is distinguished from C. caudata in having more caudal vertebrae (46–49 vs. 42–45), a smaller mouth with the posterior angle of the lips situated in front of the vertical through the anterior margin of the posterior nostril (vs. reaching the vertical through the anterior margin of the eye), broad and large (vs. narrow and small) ribs, the neural arches of the vertebrae without (vs. with) fenestration, absence (vs. presence) of spots associated with the base of the dorsal- and anal-fin rays, body pigmentation sparse, consisting of only minute widely separated melanophores (vs. body pigmentation well-developed and consisting of numerous densely distributed melanophores that form lines or blotches), and the absence of pigmentation along pectoral-fin rays (vs. rows of melanophores lining pectoral-fin rays).

It differs from its only other congener, C. fusipinnis, by having the dorsal and anal fins separate from (vs. confluent with) the caudal fin, fewer dorsal- (40–43 vs 44–48) and anal-fin rays (40–43 vs. 44–48), more caudal-fin rays (4+4 vs. 3+3) and by the presence (vs. absence) of teeth on the third hypobranchial.

For more information, see the paper: Britz, R (2010) A new earthworm eel of the genus Chaudhuria from the Ayeyarwaddy River Drainage, Myanmar (Teleostei: Synbranchiformes: Chaudhuriidae). Zootaxa 2571, pp. 62–68.