Last updated June 21, 2018 at 1:38 pm
And there’s more to the species than expected.
Freshwater pygmy perch once swam across parts of arid Australia where there has been no fresh water for a long time.
They did it at least twice, in fact, more than 15 million years ago, heading east to west.
Research by Australian and Brazilian scientists not only adds further weight to the suggestion that rivers once flowed in areas that are now arid, it also tells us more about this diverse group of small native fishes found at opposite ends of the continent.
The work was led by Sean Buckley at Adelaide’s Flinders University, collaborating with others at Flinders, University of Canberra and Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso.
They used genomic data to investigate the evolutionary history of the pygmy perch and suggest that one species (N. vittata) may actually be composed of several genetically distinct “species”.
“…we propose three cryptic species within a southwestern species complex,” they write in a paper published in Royal Society Open Science.
“The finding of potentially new species demonstrates that pygmy perches may be even more susceptible to ecological and demographic threats than previously thought.
“Our results have substantial implications for improving conservation legislation of pygmy perch lineages, especially in southwestern Western Australia.”