Supervising a team of Iranian, German, and Turkish researchers, Dr. Seyed Hamed Mousavi Sabet, a faculty member of the Department of Fisheries, Faculty of Natural Resources at the University of Guilan, discovered a 12 million-year-old fish species and named it after the memorial of the victims of chemical weapons.
The result of six years of continuous research by this international research group on nibble fish or doctor fish in the Tigris River basin in Iran, Turkey, and Iraq was published as a research paper with the discovery of an unknown species of this kind.
Dr. Seyed Hamed Mousavi Sabet said: This research project was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Sohail Eegdari (from Tehran University), Dr. Maryam Saemi (Ph.D. graduate of the University of Guilan), Dr. Junid Kaya (Researcher at Rajab Tayyab Erdoğan University of Turkey) and Dr. Jörg Freyhoff (ichthyologist at the Natural History Museum of Berlin). As the result of this research project, an unknown fish from the nibble fish group, which has a relatively wide native distribution in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, was introduced to the world of zoology for the first time.
He also added that naming new species to respect famous and great people is common in biological sciences. In Iran, some native fishes were named by Iranian and foreign explorers in honor of Ferdowsi, Hafez, Saadi, Sheikh Bahai, Rais Ali Delwari, Amir Kabir, Shajarian, Ali Daei, Park ranger Parham, etc. so far.
He mentioned that this species with an evolutionary age of more than 12 million years is the oldest known species of this group of fishes in the West Asia region. The fishes of the genus Gara originated from East Asia about twenty million years ago and gradually expanded their distribution to the west. Choosing the name "Reza" for this fish was made by the consensus of fellow researchers in our research team so on behalf of the scientific community, we considered these years of scientific efforts as a homage to protect and commemorate the victims of chemical weapons.
It is worth mentioning that this new species was named in honor of Reza Mousavi Sabet, the father of the first author of this scientific article, a soldier who was injured by chemical weapons in the region where this fish was discovered during the Iran-Iraq war, and the research team named this new species in honor and the memorial of all Iranian and Iraqi victims of chemical weapons during the eight-year war of Iraq and Iran (1980-1988).
An article related to the description of Garra Rezai fish has been published in one of the most prestigious zoological magazines in the world (Zootaxa) in 2022.