Asia: Republic of Palau. Presently known from a western fringing reef of Ngemelis Island, in a reef cave at 35 m depth.As an elopomorph, it almost certainly has a leptocephalus larval form, and letptocephali (particularly those of anguilliforms) are known to have long planktonic durations (210 months). Accordingly, the authors believe that Protoanguilla probably has a considerably broader distribution than currently known, even though no leptocephali matching its unique meristic formula (fewer than 90 vertebrae, more than 170 dorsal fin and anal fin rays) have been identified in extensive worldwide larval fish collections. In any case, historically, the Protoanguilla lineage, estimated to have diverged ca 200Ma, must have been much more widely distributed, because the Palau-Kyushu Ridge formed only around 6070 Ma (Ref. 87802).
- Johnson, G.D., H. Ida, J. Sakaue, T. Sado, T. Asahida and M. Miya 2011 A 'living fossil' eel (Anguilliformes: Protanguillidae, fam. nov.) from an undersea cave in Palau. Proc. R. Soc. B. published on line, Version 3. (Ref. 87802) http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=87802&speccode=66270