Our treasure of the month bears a great name

©Jörg Freyhof


The age of new species discoveries continues. Even though we could think that the vertebrates of this planet should be pretty well known, there are still many unknown species to be found, especially in less well-studied areas. Our treasure, Seminemacheilus attalicus, was named after the Attalid king Attalos.

Scientists may also have described species incorrectly, for example, due to not well known data. Such errors can be discovered and revised using modern methods such as DNA analysis. The classical methods of species classification are still helpful and necessary.

In 2020, a team of Turkish and German researchers described three new freshwater fish species of the genus Seminemacheilus (Nemacheilidae). Seminemacheilus attalicus, the one of the three new species shown here, is characterized a slightly emarginated caudal fin, a central pore in the supratemporal canal on the head and a marbled flank pattern. The second part of the name refers to the Pergamene kingdom of the Attalids (241 to ca. 185 BC), founded by the son of the Macedonian Attalos, an important courtier and soldier.

Seminemacheilus attalicus is distributed in the Kırkgöz drainage, an area located northwest of the Antalya plateau. The flow of water from the Kırkgöz springs forms lakes and swamps. All three newly discovered species occur exclusively (endemically) in central Anatolia. Seminemacheilus ekmekciae occurs in the Lake Tuz basin and Seminemacheilus tubae in Lake Beyşehirs drainage system. In course of the investigations, the species Seminemacheilus dursunavsari from the Göksu River, which has been described in previous times,  is not a valid name and this population is identified as S. tubae.

The Anatolian peninsula is the heart of the Turkish territory. Surrounded by several seas (Mediterranean, Aegean, Marmara and Black Seas), Anatolia has a great variety of different landscapes and thus a high biodiversity. The springs and rivers of the Anatolian highlands provide abundant water to the surrounding lowlands which are a paradise for fishpopulations.


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