Snakehead study reveals new fish

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Scientists have used a combined molecular and fossil study to gather new information on the evolution of Asian snakeheads - revealing a cryptic species.

Experts at Queensland University of Technology in Australia created an evolutionary family tree for the Channa genus using molecular data and managed to calibrate the times at which species split by using snakehead fossils.

The study suggests that Asian snakeheads split from their African relatives about 40-50 million years ago, and that evolution in Asian snakeheads has been influenced by several dispersal events across India and Southeast Asia.

The results, which are due to be published shortly in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, also identify a Channa marulia-like species in northern Cambodia which may be undescribed.

The study also supports the theory that the Indian Channa diplogramma (pictured above) is a distinct species, and not a morph of Channa micropeltes as some have previously suggested.