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Study on carnivorous fish of Sri Lanka

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Channa orientalis also known as the Ceylon snakehead is the only pelvic-fin less snakehead in Sri Lanka.

 

by Ifham Nizam

A team of ichthyologists in their latest study on carnivorous fish of Sri Lanka points out that Channa orientalis also known as the Ceylon snakehead, is the only pelvic-fin less snakehead in Sri Lanka.

Snakeheads are one of the main carnivorous groups of freshwater fish in Sri Lanka. They belong to the family Channidae and the genus Channa. There are six species of Channa in Sri Lanka, two of which are endemic. The two endemic species are Channa ara and Channa orientalis. Channa orientalis also known as the Ceylon snakehead is the only pelvic-fin less snakehead in Sri Lanka.

The latest study on the genetic diversity and morphological stasis in the Ceylon Snakehead found that the taxonomic identity and the type locality of this species were not certain.

Scientist Hiranya Sudasinghe told The Island yesterday: “We show that C. orientalis is composed of two geographically and genetically distinct lineages but which show remarkable morphological similarity between the two lineages. The recognition of two distinct genetic lineages is important because, when it comes to conservation management of this species, these two lineages could be recognised as two Evolutionary Significant Units that would deserve separate conservation attention.”

“We argue that the type locality of C. orientalis is south-western Sri Lanka, to which the species is endemic. Channa orientalis is distinguished from other species of Channa by the absence of pelvic fins, adult colouration in life, dorsal- and anal-fin ray counts, number of vertebrae, and scale counts,” the team pointed out.

This species feeds like a ciclids, experts point out.

The team of scientists comprises of Hiranya Sudasinghe of Evolutionary Ecology and Systematics Lab, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka/ Postgraduate Institute of Science, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, SriLanka, R.H.Tharindu Ranasinghe of Butterfly Conservation Society of Sri Lanka, Rohan Pethiyagoda of  Ichthyology Section, Australian Museum, 1 William Street, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia, Madhava Meegaskumbura of  Guangxi Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology & Conservation, College of Forestry, Guangxi University, Nanning, People’s Republic of China and Ralf Britz Senckenberg Naturhistorische Sammlungen Dresden, Museum für Tierkunde, Königsbrücker Landstrasse 159, 01109 Dresden, Germany

As the type species of the genus Channa, the identity of the pelvic-finless snakehead Channa orientalis Bloch is important to channid systematics. Although this name has been attached to a Sri Lankan species for the past 160 years, its vaguely specified type locality, ‘India Orientali’, has long cast doubt as to its origin.

Based on a collection across its range in the island and analysis of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) barcoding gene, scientists show that the Sri Lankan pelvic-finless Channa is composed of two geographically discrete lineages separated by an uncorrected pairwise cox1 genetic distance of 6.9–8.1%.

The minimum genetic distance between these two lineages and other species of the Gachua group of Channa is 5.1%. Despite their genetic divergence, the two lineages exhibit remarkable morphological stasis: they are indistinguishable from each other in external morphology.

 



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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