Subterranean Fish Named After Cave-Dwelling Gollum Character Of The Lord Of The Rings


The first known species of subterranean snakehead has been named Aenigmachanna gollum, after the cave-dwelling character Gollum from The Lord of the Rings novel.

Britz et al. 2019

Almost a year ago Mr. Ajeer, a local resident of the small village Oorakam in Kerala, a state in South India, uploaded a picture onto the internet of a fish which he had found in a paddy field and believed to have been washed out from an underground cave system. Rajeev Raghavan, from the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, spotted the picture and recognized it as an unidentified species of snakehead. Snakeheads are predatory fishes that live in freshwater rivers throughout the forests of western Africa and the mountainous areas of central Asia. However, no snakehead species inhabiting a subterranean habitat was known at the time, so this seemed to be a really exciting find. Finally, in August of 2018, a research team managed to visit the site of the unusual discovery. The new species was named Aenigmachanna gollum, after the fictional, cave-dwelling character Gollum introduced in the 1937 fantasy novel by British author J. R. R. Tolkien The Hobbit. Tolkien described his Gollum as “a small, slimy creature” who lived on a small island in the center of an underground lake at the roots of the Misty Mountains. Surviving on cave fish, which he caught in the lake, and cursed with an unusually long life by The One Ring he claimed his precious, over the years his eyes adapted to the dark and became “lamp-like”, shining with a sickly pale light.

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