New Orinoco fish named after Enya


In 1988, Irish singer and songwriter Enya released a single called ‘Orinoco Flow’ from her second studio album, which went on to become an international hit and earn a Grammy Award nomination. Now a team of scientists have named a new species of fish from the Orinoco River drainage after her.

Leporinus enyae is a “beautiful little fish,” said Michael Burns, a doctoral candidate at Oregon State University and lead author on the paper describing the new species.

“Whenever we were in the lab at Oregon State working on the fishes, Ben Frable would always play ‘Orinoco Flow,” said Burns, referring to another graduate student in the lab.

“I heard the song so often in the lab it got stuck in my head,” co-author Marcus Chatfield said. “Then I just started listening to it on purpose when I was taking measurements of the specimens. When the time came around for choosing names, it just felt right to name this new beautiful fish from the Orinoco after the artist who wrote that beautiful song.”

Leporinus is the largest and most diverse genus in the characiform family Anostomidae and includes roughly 90 species across most of South America.

The term Leporinus literally means ‘little hare,’ in reference to the large teeth that protrude from the mouth, much like those of a rabbit. The bottom teeth of the new species are particularly long, and while no one is sure why, the researchers note that it may relate to it foraging on plants, worms and other invertebrates.