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Tapetail, Bignose and Whalefish turn out to be the same fish

New research has revealed that the tapetail, bignose and whalefish are in fact all the same fish.

For decades, three different names have been used for three very different looking underwater creatures: the Tapetail, the Bignose and the Whalefish. A team of seven scientists*, including Smithsonian curator Dr Dave Johnson, has now discovered that these three fishes are in fact part of the same family.

whalefish Tapetail, Bignose and Whalefish turn out to be the same fish

After studying the body structures of the tapetails (Mirapinnidae), bignose fish (Megalomycteridae) and whalefish (Cetomimidae) and taking advantage of modern DNA-analysis, the team realized that the three are actually the larvae, male and female, respectively, of a single fish family – Cetomimidae (also known as Flabby whalefish).

This is an incredibly significant and exciting finding,” says Johnson. “For decades scientists have wondered why all tapetails were sexually immature, all bignose fishes were males and all whalefishes were females and had no known larval stages. The answer to part of that question was right under our noses all along—the specimens of tapetails and bignose fishes that were used to describe their original families included transitional forms—we just needed to study them more carefully.”

If you wish to find out more, the article “Deep-sea mystery solved: astonishing larval transformations and extreme sexual dimorphism unite three fish families has been published in the journal Biology Letters by the Royal Society, London.

http://publishing.royalsociety.org/

http://journals.royalsociety.org/content/g06648352k5m1562/

* The seven scientists behind the discovery are:

G.David Johnson, Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560, USA

John R. Paxton, Ichthyology, Australian Museum, Sydney, New South Wales 2010, Australia

Tracey T. Sutton, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA 23062, USA

Takashi P. Satoh, Marine Bioscience, Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan

Tetsuya Sado, Zoology, Natural History Museum and Institute, Chuo-ku, Chiba 266-8682, Japan

Mutsumi Nishida, Marine Bioscience, Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan

Masaki Miya, Zoology, Natural History Museum and Institute, Chuo-ku, Chiba 266-8682, Japan

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