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Have 'Frankenfish' Invaded New York City?

The northern snakehead, Channa argus, is an invasive species throughout North America. (Image credit: <a href="">chungking</a> | <a href=""></a>)

Not all of New York City's predators are found on Wall Street.

Officials with New York's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are planning to survey a lake in Central Park for signs of the dreaded northern snakehead fish, aka "Frankenfish," reports.

The snakehead (Channa argus), so named because its ugly face resembles that of a toothy reptile with a wide grin, is an invasive species that's native to Asia. One was spotted several years ago in a lake in Central Park, NBC reports.

A voracious top predator, the snakehead eats frogs, crayfish and other fish. Snakeheads can breathe air and live in very shallow water, or outside of water in damp conditions, for several days, according to the DEC.

However, rumors that snakeheads can walk across land (and that marauding gangs of snakeheads are terrorizing Manhattan's Upper West Side) are largely unfounded.

"Northern snakeheads do not walk on land," Virginia Tech's snakehead information website states. "Their pectoral fins…lack spines, and have only soft rays. Thus, they have no 'legs' to propel them forward."

Nonetheless, wildlife officials are concerned that the invasive fish can wipe out populations of native fish. Anglers who land a snakehead are urged by the DEC to "kill it immediately, freeze it and report your catch."

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Marc Lallanilla
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at and a producer with His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.