New spiny eel described from Lake Tanganyika

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Belgian ichthyologists Emmanuel Vreven and Jos Snoeks have described a new species of spiny eel from northern Lake Tanganyika in a recent issue of the Journal of Fish Biology.

Naming the new species Mastacembelus reygeli after scientific illustrator Alain Reygel, the authors distinguish the new species from Lake Tanganyika congeners by the following combination of characters: postanal length 37.5"43.1% standard length, length of pectoral fin 144"259% standard length, distance from snout to last externally visible dorsal spine 666"715% standard length, distance from snout to last externally visible anal spine 619"684% standard length, 34"38 dorsal spines, 42"46 caudal vertebrae, and brown background colour without or with only a limited and scattered dark brown reticulate pattern.

The new species was previously confused with M. albomaculatus, and the authors report on specimens with morphology intermediate between the two species collected mainly from the southern part of the lake.

These specimens are hypothesized to be interspecific hybrids of M. albomaculatus and M. reygeli.

For more information, see the paper: Vreven, EJ and J Snoeks (2009) A new mastacembelid species from Lake Tanganyika: a case of complex evolutionary history. Journal of Fish Biology 75, pp. 1018"1047.