He has roads and buildings named after him, but now former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam can lay claim to be one of the few personalities to have a fish named after him. ‘Horaglanis abdulkalami’ is the name given to a hypogean blind catfish discovered from a well in Irijalakuda in Thrissur district by K K Subash Babu.
On choosing the name of ‘Missile Man of India’ for his discovery, Subash Babu, currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, College of Natural Sciences at Jimma University in Ethiopia, says: “It was during my stint at Cochin University a couple of years back that the discovery was made. Though I have never met Dr Kalam in person, I wrote to the former President about the fish and my intention to give his name to this species as a mark of respect. In his reply, he appreciated my work and permitted to use his name for the species.”
According to international norms, the person who first finds a new plant or animal is entitled to name it according to his/her wish. “The scientist who first makes the discovery of a species has the freedom to choose the name of that species. Name of each species contains two parts — the first one represents the genus like ‘Horaglanis’ and the second describes that particular species. Usually, the scientist will chose the second part,” said Dr S Bijoy Nandan, faculty, Department of Marine Biology, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT).
This is the third time that a blind catfish has been discovered from the state, the first two being ‘Horaglanis krishnai Menon’ (1951) and ‘Horaglanis alikunhii’ (2004). Subhash was also involved in the discovery of the fish ‘alikunhii’ from the central part of the state. The newly-found fish is around 3.5 cm to 4 cm in size and red in colour with no eyes.