Proving once again that there are still places on our own planet that have yet to yield all their secrets, scientists have discovered a unique eel
off the coast of the Republic of Palau
in the Pacific Ocean. This eel has been dubbed a "living fossil" due to its unusually primitive features. These features led researchers to create a new taxonomic family to classify the eel in relation to other eel species.
The eel, described in the researchers' paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B
, is an 18cm-long female, collected during a dive in an 35-m deep underwater cave. The species was named Protoanguilla palau
, according to the new family, genus, and species names bestowed by the researchers. According to the researchers from Chiba's Natural History Museum
in Japan, the Southern Marine Laboratory
in Palau, and the Smithsonian Institute
in Washington DC, the eel likely embarked on an independent evolutionary history millions of years ago.