The animal diversity on planet Earth is truly spectacular. A testament to that comes in the form of a recent discovery by researchers in Africa, who found over 40 previously unknown species of fish–all from one lake.
Lake Mweru, located between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the home of these newly discovered varieties of cichlids, which were found by researchers from the University of Cambridge. So, how did one lake come to house such diversity? The lake is home to a rare phenomenon in which different species of cichlids will interbreed due to poor visibility conditions. This process began 1 million years ago when the lake was formed and combined cichlid lineages from the Congo and the Zambezi.
This fueled the evolution of new species, creating a unique ecological environment in Lake Mweru. Researchers are still analyzing the new discovery, but it will likely be immensely impactful for studying diversification and evolutionary patterns in this region and beyond.