The snakehead (genus: Channa) enters the LRT

Revised October 23, 2020
with the addition of Aenigmachanna (Fig. 1b) to the LRT helping to understand the morphology of the skull of Channa (Fig. 1a).

Nicknames include
“Frankenfish” and “the fish from Hell”, as if ‘snakehead’ wasn’t evil-sounding enough.

Toothy
Channa (Scopoli 1777) enters the large reptile tree (LRT, 1627+ taxa) basal to all other Teleostei other than the bowfin, Amia, and the Cretaceous ‘swordfish’, Polysphyraena.

Figure 4. Revised skull of the snakehead fish, Channa, with DGS colors applied.

Figure 1a. Revised skull of the snakehead fish, Channa, with DGS colors applied.

Figure 1. The dragon snakehead, Aenigmachanna. Note the oversized ectopterygoid with twin dorsal processes.

Figure 1b. The dragon snakehead, Aenigmachanna. Note the oversized ectopterygoid with twin dorsal processes.

Channa (Figs. 1, 2) is transitional
and proximally basal to the equally toothy wolffish, Anarchias (Fig. 3) and another ocean-going predator, the swift mahi-mahi, Coryphaena.

Figure 2. Channa andrao in vivo.

Figure 2. Channa andrao in vivo.

Channa sp(Scopoli 1777; 25 cm to 1+m) is the extant snakehead, a predatory freshwater fish nesting here between the bowfin (Amia) and the wolffish (Anarchias). This fish can breathe air and travel across land for short distances seeking new ponds, but this is rare as the pectoral fins are weak and poorly angled for this.

Figure 1. Skull of the wolffish, Anarhichas. Compare to the pupfish in figure 3.

Figure 1. Skull of the wolffish, Anarhichas. Compare to the pupfish in figure 3.

Like the bowfin and wolffish,
the dorsal and anal fins are long. The pelvic fins are absent only in some species. Teeth are present on the parasphenoid.

Early Eocene fossils are known,
but the genesis of this genus extends back to the Devonianb based on phylogenetic bracketing. Living relatives include the climbing perch, gouramis and Siamese fighting fish. These are considered members of the Percomorpha, but Channa is not related to Perca in the LRT.


References
Scopoli JA 1777. Introdvctio ad historiam natvralem sistens genera lapidvm, plantarvm, et animalivm hactenvs detecta, caracteribvs essentialibvs donata, in tribvs divisa, svbinde ad leges natvrae. – pp. [1-9], 3-506, [1-34]. Pragæ. (Gerle).

wiki/Channa
wiki/Snakehead_(fish)

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