04/20/2018 | short news | Katharina Bunk

New fish species in the universe: Romanogobio skywalkeri

Scientists from Berlin, Graz and Vienna have described a new fish species from Austria for the first time. The formal description of a species previously unknown to science also includes giving it a scientific name. Its spelling and structure is defined by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. But when it comes to the genus and species name itself, the describing scientists – in this case all Star Wars fans – have free rein: Romanogobio skywalkeri.

A new fish species it is: Romanogobio skywalkeri, the emerald gudgeon from the Austrian river Mur. | Photo: Jörg Freyhof / IGB

Every year about 300 to 500 fish species are newly described. Most of these new species come from little-studied areas and have long been known by other names. Thus, the discovery of the emerald gudgeon from the Mur River in Austria is a real surprise. Only in 2009, "strange gudgeons” were identified as probable hybrids. Genetic analyses as part of the Austrian Barcode of Life Initiative finally confirmed that these fish represent a completely new species, that was isolated several million years ago from its closest relative in Greece.

The known distribution area of the emerald gudgeon is limited to the Upper Mur River, where it is found in shallow, fast flowing waters on gravel banks. The discovery of a new vertebrate species in Central Europe – according to current knowledge endemic in Austria – is remarkable from a scientific and ecological point of view. It underlines the importance and value of the Mur and other alpine rivers as a habitat.

We wish the scientists of the University of Graz, the Institute of Hydrobiology and Water Management of the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin good entertainment at the next movie night with their movie hero Luke Skywalker!

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Contact person

Jörg Freyhof

Project Coordinator
Working group
River Revitalization

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