New spiny eel found in Lake Tanganyika

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Belgian ichthyologists have described a new spiny eel from Lake Tanganyika, publishing its description in a recent issue of the Journal of Fish Biology.

Emmanuel Vreven and Jos Snoeks name the new spiny eel Mastacembelus reygeli

This species is endemic to Lake Tanganyika and recorded from the northern to the central parts of the lake.  

It is named after Alain Reygel, artist at the MRAC in Tervuren, and has been previously confused with M. albomaculatus, another spiny eel endemic to Lake Tanganyika.  

Specimens intermediate in morphology between the new species and M. albomaculatus were also found, resulting from past hybridization and introgression events.

It can be distinguished from congeners in having a combination of: postanal length 36·6–44·8 % standard length; pectoral-fin length 14·4–25·9% head length; 34–38 dorsal spines; 42–46 caudal vertebrae; 78–83 total vertebrae; brown background colour without or with only a limited and scattered dark brown reticulate pattern.  

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.