Although the nation of Wakanda exists only in the Marvel Comics universe, where it is superhero Black Panther’s home, researchers believe they have found a version of it underwater.
According to CNN, 260 feet below the surface in secretive reefs, the warriors accented with vibrant purple are fish. Previously unknown, the fish species lives in dark coral reefs, called “Twilight Zone” reefs, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania. The fish are known as fairy wrasses.
The findings are detailed in a study published Thursday (11.07.19) in the journal ZooKeys. Their scales are so deeply pigmented that the deep purple remains even during the preservation process when colour is usually lost.
The fish were discovered by scientists participating in the California Academy of Sciences’ Hope for Reefs initiative, which aims to research and restore coral reef systems. The species went unknown for so long because their home is below recreational diving limits.
The fish were named Cirrhilabrus Wakanda, or the vibranium fairy wrasse, in honour of Wakanda and “Black Panther.”
“When we thought about the secretive and isolated nature of these unexplored African reefs, we knew we had to name this new species after Wakanda,” said Yi-Kai Tea, lead author of the new study and an ichthyology PhD student from the University of Sydney.
These fairy wrasses are different from the seven other species found in the Indian Ocean, as well as related ones in the Pacific Ocean.
The team studied the fish scales, fin rays and structures in detail. Up close, the pattern of the scales reminded the scientists of Black Panther’s vibranium suit and even the fabric worn by Wakandans in the “Black Panther” film.