'Zorro' fish is finally unmasked

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A large South American fish that was discovered in 2007 has failed to give out enough information about itself for scientists to identify it until now. It has finally been described and named after the secretive fictional character Zorro.

Myloplus zorroi was discovered in the Madeira river basin, which flows into the Amazon.

The new fish is commonly known among Brazilians as 'pacu' and is a relative of the piranha.

It had been originally taxonomically misplaced by other researchers, but analysis by scientists from Brazil’s Federal University of Pará placed it in the Myloplus genus, based on its body plan, and unique teeth, which are specialised to crush seeds.

The fish reaches up to 47.5cm/19in in length and is found in moderately to rapidly flowing clear rivers, running over rocky or sandy bottoms.

The name is a reference to the fictional character Don Diego de la Vega who kept his identity hidden behind a mask, calling himself Zorro, but it is also given in recognition of Mauricio Camargo-Zorro, a researcher at the Instituto Federal de Educacao, Ciencia e Tecnologia, for his contribution to the fish fauna inventory from the Marmelos Conservation Area.