Fish Parasite Named After Xena, the Warrior Princess

Posted on December 30, 2019

Elthusa Xena fish parasite

A new species of fish parasite has been discovered in South Africa. The parasite attaches itself inside the branchial cavities (the gills) of their fish hosts. The parasite has been named after Xena, the warrior princess.

The Xena parasite was one of several fish parasites discovered by a research team from North-West University in South Africa. The team was led by Serita van der Wal, Prof Nico Smit and Dr Kerry Hadfield. The fictional Xena character was chosen as the name because the female of this species appear particularly tough with their characteristic elongated and ovoid bodies. The holotype is also an egg-carrying female.

The species has been named Elthusa xena. It has so far been found only at the mouth of the Orange River, Alexander Bay, South Africa. It is also the only known Elthusa species known to parasitize the intertidal Super klipfish. There are a currently 33 Elthusa species known to science.

A research paper on the new species was published in the journal ZooKeys.