News / Science & Technology

New Fish Species is Electrifying

The Akawaio penak (top photo by Nathan Lujan; bottom photo courtesy Hernán López-Fernández)
The Akawaio penak (top photo by Nathan Lujan; bottom photo courtesy Hernán López-Fernández)

Related Articles

New 'Walking Shark' Species Identified Off Indonesia

Officially called Hemiscyllium halamhera, shark was first seen by divers in 2008 as it 'walked' along sea floor

Ancient Sea Lizard Had Shark-like Fin

Enormous sea creature lived during Cretaceous Period, about 70 million years ago

Blobfish Voted World's Ugliest Animal

The endangered fish, while inedible, gets caught in fishing trawlers' nets
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
A previously unknown species of electric fish has been discovered in the so-called “lost world” of northeastern South America.

Researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough say the Akawio penak, a “thin eel-like” fish was discovered in shallow, murky water in the upper Mazaruni River area in northern Guyana.

“The fact that this area is so remote and has been isolated for such a long time means you are quite likely to find new species,” said Professor Nathan Lovejoy.

The upper Mazaruni River is a hotspot for biological diversity, yet remains largely unexplored because of its remote location. The area contains countless rivers on top of a series of uplands that have remained isolated for more than 30 million years.

Lovejoy’s team sequenced the fish’s DNA and discovered that is was so different from other similar fish that it represented a new genus, a taxonomic classification level above species.

Different views of the Akawaio penak. ( photo courtesy Hernán López-Fernández)Different views of the Akawaio penak. ( photo courtesy Hernán López-Fernández)
x
Different views of the Akawaio penak. ( photo courtesy Hernán López-Fernández)
Different views of the Akawaio penak. ( photo courtesy Hernán López-Fernández)
While the Akawio penak does produce an electric field, it is not to stun prey but rather it is used as a navigational aid. The field also detects objects and is used to communicate with other fish, the researchers say. Given the cloudy waters in which the fish lives, the electric field is advantageous.

The species is named in honor of the Akawaio Amerindians that populate the upper Mazaruni.

“The Mazaruni contains many unique species that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. It’s an extremely important area in South America in terms of biodiversity,” said Lovejoy.

The results of the discovery are published in the recent edition of the journal Zoologica Scripta.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Outdoor Economy from: Charleston
September 26, 2013 10:12 PM
Nature is fascinating! What new technologies can we develop from studying how nature produces electricity in this way? How can we become more efficient and sustainable?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid