Scientists have discovered a new species of a giant Amazonian fish in Brazil.

According to scientists from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the 6 to 7 feet long fish is an arapaima, an air-breathing fish native to the Amazon Rainforest rivers in Brazil.

The newly discovered species is scientifically known as an arapaima leptosome. This is the first discovery of arapaima species since 1847, National Geographic reports.


“Everybody for 160 years had been saying there’s only one kind of arapaima. But we know now there are various species, including some not previously recognized,” Dr. Donald Stewart of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), who made the discovery, said in a news release.

The newly discovered A. leptosome has a slender body, distinct sensory cavities on the head, a sheath that covers part of the dorsal fin and a unique color pattern. It was originally caught in 2001 near the confluence of the Solimões and Purus rivers in Amazonas State, Brazil.

Dr. Leandro Castello, an authority on arapaima in Brazil, says, “Abundances of arapaima in large expanses of their natural habitat today are near zero, largely as a consequence of overfishing. The likely impacts of this magnitude of overfishing on species diversity are not good.”

A specimen of the newly found species is currently on display at a public aquarium in the Ukraine.

The findings of the study are published in the journal Copeia.