Ichthyologists have written a monograph about an ancient animal

Yury Dyldin, a biologist at TSU, in collaboration with colleagues from Czech Republic and the United States universities, has written a monograph devoted to an unusual member of the animal world - a lamprey. It belongs to an archaic group that is about 400 million years old. In many regions, including Siberia, the number and appearance of lamprey are markedly reduced, mainly because of human activity. In January, a monograph on the special characteristics of the modern existence of this unusual class of chordate snake-like animals will be published in the American Nova Science Publishers (New York).

- Information about the lamprey is still very slight. Sometimes it is called a fish, but this is not true. This toothless predator is an independent class of about 40 species, says Yury Dyldin, the Department of Ichthyology and Hydrobiology at TSU, a graduate student at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague. - In the monograph, we collected all the information on the lamprey, which lives in the Far Eastern seas around Sakhalin Island. Along with this, the monograph contains complete information on this species from the Czech Republic.

The new data presented in the monograph show that even in Sakhalin, where Pacific lamprey are found, the groups of these animals have obvious differences, not only external but also in their way of life. It is possible that the species diversity of lamprey in the Far Eastern seas is much wider than is commonly believed.

It is believed that only the Pacific lamprey and one or two of its freshwater forms inhabit the Sakhalin waters. The authors of the monograph suggest that this is incorrect and at least three species live near the island - the Kamchatka migratory, Siberian, and Far Eastern lamprey. In addition, there is probably another freshwater species that has not yet been described. To find out, genetic research is needed.

- With my supervisor, Lubomir Hanel, Professor at Charles University, we have planned a molecular examination that will be carried out in the Czech Republic by high-class genetics, - said Yury Dyldin. Lamprey individuals caught in the summer of 2018 in the basin of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan will be delivered. I hope that genetic research will help to solve another controversial issue - whether living freshwater lamprey forms are a separate species or, nevertheless, one of the forms of the Pacific lamp (Far Eastern) lamprey.

As Yury Dyldin notes, it is also necessary to study animals of this class in order to stop the decline in the population on Earth for almost 400 million years. For the sea lamprey, the last 50-70 years were critical: as a result of the active construction of hydroelectric stations and other structures, the entrances to the rivers where all kinds of breeding took place were blocked.

In the early twentieth century, lamprey in Siberia were a habitual inhabitant of rivers. For this reason, one of its types was given the name Siberian. Now, even in the longest river of Russia – the Ob - it has almost disappeared, and fishermen come across one or two individuals per year. Ichthyologists’ research will help formulate recommendations for the preservation of a unique endangered class of animals.

The monograph can be pre-ordered on the website of the publishing house Nova Science Publishers.
Photo of lamprey is from the archive of SakhNIRO employee Anatoly Velikanov.