Two new species of spiny eels have been named from Myanmar.
The descriptions are published in the latest issue of the journal Ichthyological Exploration of Frehswaters in a paper by Ralf Britz.
The two new species named are Mastacembelus tinwini from southern Myanmar (in the Salween and possibly the Sittang river drainages) and M. pantherinus from Lake Indawgyi in northern Myanmar.
According to Britz, M. tinwini can be distinguished from other members of the genus in having ...a unique colour pattern consisting of five regular and parallel, black, longitudinal bands alongthe body, frequently expressed as a series of interrupted lines or broken up into individual blotches, and a white margin to the soft dorsal, anal, and caudal fins...
While M. pantherinus can be distinguished by ...a unique colour pattern that consists of numerous individual spots or irregular marks, sometimes forming short lines and a whitish belly devoid of any marks....
Mastacembelus tinwini is named for U Tin Win, for providing the author with study material and assisting him in the field, while M. pantherinus is named for its spotted pattern (from panther, the Greek name for the leopard).
Picture of Mastacembelus tinwini kindly supplied by Kamphol Udomritthiruj
Both species are members of the M. armatus species complex, a group whose taxonomy is poorly understood.
Members of this complex have a very wide distribution, from Afghanistan to southern China and the Sunda islands, and have been previously thought to belong to a single widespread, variable species.
However, the author states that given the high amount of variation seen in the vertebral number of the different populations of M. armatus throughout South and Southeast Asia, ...it can be expected that a thorough revision of this complex will result in additional species-level taxa to be resurrected from synonymy and new species to be described...
For more information, see the paper: Britz, R (2007) Two new species of Mastacembelus from Myanmar (Teleostei: Synbranchiformes: Mastacembleidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 18, pp. 257"268.