Category Archives: New Species

New Species of Filament Barb Named After Ichthyologist

A brand new kind of filament barb has been discovered and described which is from India’s southern tip. This new discovery was released in the newest edition of the Journal of Threatened Taxa. This is really quite an astonishing discovery, and it leads one to wonder what other marvels may be hiding themselves away in the depths of the sea, far from the prying hands of us humans.

Puntius Rohani

Puntius Rohani - Picture from report

Authors, TJ Indra, K Rema, and JD Marcus Knight have dubbed the new barb discovered Puntius rohani, after Rohan Pethiyagoda, an accomplished Ichthyologist, for his contributions on both Sri Lankan and Indian fish.

This new filament barb is distinguished by others of its species by the fact that this particular barb has a black club-shaped blotch by the caudal peduncle. It also seems to lack any other colors or patterns other than this blotch, and it also doesn’t have the black bands near the tip of its caudal fin lobes.

The actual report is really quite riveting, and tells a great deal more about the new filament barb, other differences, discovery, and notations.

If you would like to hear more on this subject, you will need to refer to the paper itself: Devi, KR, TJ Indra and JDM Knight (2010) Puntius rohani (Teleostei: Cyprinidae), a new species of barb in the Puntius filamentosus group from the southern Western Ghats of India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 2(9): 1121-1129. Read the papper (pdf)

New Kind Of Armored Catfish Eats Wood?


Paulo & the new Catfish species. Picture by :Nature conservancy

An amazonian catfish, which also happens to be armored, has been discovered and it doesn’t eat the usual thing… Nope, this one eats wood. This interesting catfish will eat wood from logs floating around, or if it gets particularly hungry, even the excrement of its neighboring catfish.

This amazing new species of armored catfish was discovered by Paulo Petry, of Nature Conservancy. Paulo, along with some colleagues, reeled in these interesting catfish a few weeks back when on a scientific expedition to the Fitzgerald Arch. The Fitzgerald arch is one of the most out of the way places in the Peruvian Amazon, and is busting at the seams with different kinds of life, but it is also facing imminent dangers from development projects.

The catfish may not win any beauty pageants, however as Petry has commented “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have scientist friends who do work on the blobfish, and they think it’s beautiful!”

The largest of these unique creatures reeled in was roughly 65 centimeters, while the other two captured were only about half that size. They were reeled in at the confluence of the Purus and Curanja rivers.

An interesting question is just why this particular catfish is armored. Although, as Petry explains, finding armored catfish in South America isn’t so unusual. “There are 35 different families of catfish on Earth. Armored catfish are unique to South America. They’re the most diverse group of catfish in South America — probably close to 800 species. They’re a fairly evolved, and a very specialized group within catfish.”

However, what is even more astounding is that this particular catfish eats wood. While it is true that there are some variety of fish will dig their way into logs, however finding a fish which actually makes a meal of the substance is a rare find. There are a very small group of catfish which share this wood eating characteristic. Once this catfish mows down on some seemingly non-nutritious wood, it converts the wood cellulose into a different form of sugar, which it then uses.

Apparently, wood eating catfish wouldn’t be as surprising to us if the people who shipped them off to aquariums didn’t half starve them on the way there. “That’s one of the biggest issues when people bring these fish into the aquarium trade — they let them starve for very long times for shipping, the protozoan in their belly dies, and then they can’t digest wood. If you put another fish from the same group that is in good condition in the tank with them, the starving fish will eat the feces of the healthy fish to reinoculate itself with the protozoan, and then it will be able to eat wood and survive.” Petry went on to explain.

Well there you have it… Wood eating catfish are amongst us. Who knows what other unique and interesting creatures we will find?

Census Reveals that Japanese and Australian Waters, Hiding Secrets


The area of the census ranges from Japanese to Australian waters.

Japan along with Australia have some of the world’s most diverse oceans, however thousands of the marvelous creatures in their deeps, remain unknown to man, and global warming is a major concern, suggests a newly performed census.

Both Japan and Australia are the proud owners of 33,000 some odd known species, according to a decade long scientific survey of the life in the sea, aptly dubbed “What lives in the Sea”.

However, there could be more than 200,000 species in the vast waters of Australia, which are surrounded by three oceans and four seas, which extend from the icy southern pole, to the coral-rich tropics.

“This constitutes a vast array of highly diverse habitats and ocean features, but many have received limited if any exploration,”
wrote Alan Butler, from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, who is the lead author of the work.

The majority of the 33,000 species which were noted for Australia were animals, including fish, seabirds and of course marine mammals, with an astonishing rate of new fish and shark species being found on a continuing basis. Butler has guessed that only about 20 percent of Australia’s total marine species have been discovered to date.

Life was most densely populated in the northeast, which is where the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef makes its home, and is cock full of turtles, colorful corals, dolphins and dugongs.

“Australia is of tremendous ecological interest,” explained Jessie Ausubel, a representative for the marine census. “It is advanced in creating protected marine areas, around coral reefs but also around its deep-sea areas.”

A representative of Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Katsunori Fujikura, has commented that somewhere in the vicinity of 155,000 species have been spotted in the waters surrounding Japan, which only accounts for a mere 30 percent of all estimated life, and only 33,000 have been officially recorded on the books.

“The reason why such high diversity occurs is undoubtedly the varied environments existing in Japanese waters,”
explained Fujikura.

Japan’s waters are just about 11 times larger than the land area, and they feature coral reefs, ince bound seas and trenches (which can be up to 10 kilometers deep). The strong ocean currents in the area, mean that roughly 5 percent of the species found there are actually unique to Japanese waters.

By contrast, 19 percent of New Zealand’s 17,000 marine species are found only around the isolated island state, and Antarctica’s Southern Ocean also hosts many species not found anywhere else.

“Most species in the Southern Ocean are rare, with over half of the known benthic (sea-bed) species having only been found once or twice,” explainedHuw Griffiths, a report author, from the British Antarctic Survey.

The extremely remote, and even hostile, Antarctic region is the home to 8,000 some odd recorded species, with sponges, small crustaceans, and moss animals richly represented.

However, over 90 percent of the marine environment is over one kilometer below the waves, and less thn 10 percent of the total deep-sea area has been explored, “implying there are still a great many species yet to be described” Griffiths explained.

Brand New Clownfish From Pacific Described

Researchers have described a brand new kind of clownfish, which belongs in the skunk clown group.

Douglas Fenner, Joshua Drew, and Gerald Allen, described this new clownfish as Amphiprion pacificus in their report which was recently published in Aqua, the International Journal of Ichthyology.

Amphiprion pacificus is now being described by scientists who took a look at four specimens which were roughly 4 to 5 centimeters long, and were caught in the western Pacific Ocean, between Tonga and Wallis Island.

However, it should be noted that this “new” fish was also photographed by divers on the coral reefs in Samao and Fiji.

This new species which has been described is almost identical to Amphiprion akallopisos, which makes its home in the Indian Ocean.

Both species of fish have a slightly pinkish brown body and a white stripe along their backs.

Despite the fact that they are almost identical in appearance, genetic testing has suggeste that Amphiprion pacificus is more closely related to Amphiprion sandaracinos, an anemonefish which lives in the Western Australia and indo-Malayan region of the world.

The authors were quoted as saying: “Aside from genetic differences A. sandaracinos differs from A. pacificus in having a uniform orange colouration and the white forehead stripe extends onto the upper lip.

“There also appears to be modal differences in the number of soft dorsal and anal rays (usually 19 versus 18 and 13 versus 12 respectively for A. pacificus and A. sandaracinos).”

If you are interested in learning more about this new discovery, feel free to check out: Allen GR, Drew J and D Fenner (2010) – Amphiprion pacificus, a new species of anemonefish (Pomacentridae) from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and Wallis Island, pp. 129-138. Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, Volume 16, Issue 3 – 15 July 2010.

Scientist Ecstatic Over Rare Coral!

Acropora palmata,

Acropora palmata,

A scientist from Australia has stumbled across what might be the rarest coral in the world, in the vastness of the remote North Pacific.

The coral, identified as Pacific elkhorn, was discovered while performing underwater surveys at Arno atoll, situated in the Marshall Islands, by Dr. Zoe Richards, a coral researcher of the CoECRS (ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies).

This coral is strikingly similar to the endangered and rapidly disappearing elkhorn coral, known in scientific circles as Acropora palmata, native to the Atlantic Ocean.

However, upon close genetic comparison is has proven that this coral is actually a different species.

“When I first saw it, I was absolutely stunned. The huge colonies – five metres across and nearly two metres high with branches like an elk’s antlers – were like nothing I’d seen before in the Pacific Ocean,”
Dr Richards commented during a conference.

So far I have only found this new population of coral to occur along a small stretch of reef at a single atoll in the Marshalls group.

“It grows in relatively shallow water along the exposed reef front and, so far, fewer than 200 colonies are known from that small area.”

Dr. Richards explained that the Pacific elkhorn colonies were the largest of their kind, and also largest in all of the colonies located at Arno Atoll. This means that they are incredibly old.

So, there you have it. A new coral, well OK, newly discovered coral, is making quite a splash in the scientific community, and has sparked debate as to whether it is indeed a new species or not. Only time will tell…

A New Species of Hemigrammus Tetra Has Been Described:

A brand spanking new species of Hemigrammus tetra has been categorized, analyzed and described by a group of ichthyologists from Brazil. The new species makes its home in the Tocantins River drainage out in the central area of Brazil.

This tetra Hemigrammus, dubbed Hemigrammus tocantinsi, was described in the recently published issue of the journal Neotropical Ichthyology by Fernando Carvalho, Vinicius Bertaco, and Fernando Jerep.

What exactly sets this Hemigrammus tocantinsi apart from the other Hemigrammus tetra? Well for starters, Hemigrammus tetra has 15 to 17 anal-fin rays, horizontal stripes which narrow towards the back and get wider towards the front, as well as sporting one or two eye teeth. This new species of tetra likes to make its home in forested streams, where it lives in peaceful co-existence with Aspidoras albater, Astyanax sp., Characidium stigmosum, Corumbataia veadeiros, and Trichomycterus sp.

The Hemigrammus tocantinsi has another rather interesting thing going for it. Its dietary habits were extensively studied, and it was found that the Hemigrammus tocantinsi has a diet which consists mainly of terrestrial and aquatic insects.

If you would like more information on this very exciting topic, please see the paper: Carvalho, FR, VA Bertaco & FC Jerep (2010) Hemigrammus tocantinsi: a new species from the upper rio Tocantins basin, Central Brazil (Characiformes: Characidae). Neotropical Ichthyology 8, pp. 247–254.

A New Species of Pike Cichlid is Unveiled

Crenicichla hu

Crenicichla hu

Crenicichla hu

Crenicichla hu, paratypes, male (below) and female (above) (photos from publication)

Icthyologists from Argentina in conjunction with scientists from the Czech Republic have finally unveiled a new species of pike cichlid which makes its home in the Parana River drainage of Argentina.

This new cichlid was dubbed Crenicichla hu in a recently published paper in the journal Zootaxa. The lead author, Lubomir Pialek along with coauthors have distinguished this new cichlid from similar species in the area as they have a combination of dark gray or dark brown to black color body and fins, 7 to 9 black spots on their flanks, 47 to 54 scales in row E1, and the dorsal fin on the adult female species has a pattern of black and white horizontal stripes or blotches.

This new species of cichlid has formally been confirmed and recognized by a phylogenetic study which was carried out in the same paper by using the mitochondrial ND2 gene.

The cichlid was scooped up from a swiftly running, clear stream with a substrate mud, stone and sand. Its name, Crenichlia hu, comes from the Guarani word for black (hu), referring to its dark coloring.

If you would like to read more about this fascinating new cichlid, you can check out the paper by clicking the link below.

New Sea Creatures Discovered off the Coast of Newfoundland

A conglomerate of Canadian and Spanish researchers have discovered new marine life, which have been previously unknown to the scientific community, and some are even over a 1,000 years old. They are hoping that these creatures will shed some light into the secrets of the ancient underwater ecosystems.

Scientists from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography in conjunction with three Canadian universities and the Fisheries Department are going on a 20 day expedition to take some photos and pick up samples of coral and sponges up to 3 kilometers deep in the cold waters off the Newfoundland coast.

The team will be studying 11 different areas which are under the protection of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization.

These are important areas of study as they are the home to the “trees of the ocean” explains a research scientist with the Fisheries Department, Ellen Kenchington. Ellen is also leading the expedition.

The coral which can be found in these areas can be several meters tall and is sufficient enough in size to change the flow of currents. It is also the home to many other fish and other aquatic life.

The aim of the study is to see whether or not these areas need further protection from fishing to help keep the species abundant.

Ellen went on to explain that scientists can actually take a look at the chemical makeup of the coral and figure out the temperature of the water and other information dating back as far as 1,000 years!

For pictures see

Amidst Oil Spill.. New Creature Emerges in Gulf.. Batfish!

Halieutichthys intermedus

Halieutichthys intermedus - Fish Biology, MCZ, AMNH

This is an absolutely amazing development.. Even though the Gulf of Mexico is in turmoil, what with the BP oil spill gumming up the works, it appears that life does go on, as scientists revealed on Thursday that a new species of pancake batfish have been discovered there.

The discovery was published in the Journal of Fish Biology, which is a team of researchers led by H.C. Ho of the Academia Sinica, and reports that two flatfish species have been discovered in the Gulf Of Mexico. The Halieutichthys intermedus and the Halieutichthys bispinous were the two species which were uncovered.

What makes this discovery so amazing, is that the latter of the two flatfish discovered is found exclusively in the area of the oil spill. No one really knows why the Halieutichthys bispinous is found only in the area of the spill, but it has been said that it does not necessarily mean there is anything special about that environment. Some researchers have theorized that the fish simply prefer that environment as it is free of natural predators, and that suits the batfish just fine. More research is planned, however the top priority of course is getting the spill cleaned up.

John Sparks, of the American Museum Of Natural History, had this to say on the subject, “If we are still finding new species of fishes in the Gulf, imagine how much diversity — especially microdiversity — is out there that we do not know about.”

Halieutichthys bispinous

Halieutichthys bispinous - Fish Biology, MCZ, AMNH

Whales weren’t the first giant filter-feeders in the sea

Newly investigated fossils show that a type of filter-feeding fishes that aren’t closely related to today’s whales (who, of course, are mammals and not fishes) roamed the oceans during the Mesozoic Era some 170 million years ago. Previously the whales were believed to have been the first large filter feeders, but these new fossils tell a different story. See pictures here

The giant filter feeders, which have been given the name Pachycormiforms, died out at the same time as the dinosaurs. Eventually sharks began filling the vacant ecological niche some 56 million years ago, followed by modern cetaceans such as whales roughly 22 million years later.

The Pachycormiform fossils have been investigated by a team of researchers* led by University of Oxford scientist Matt Friedman, as a part of a study where both old and new fish fossils from England, Japan and the USA have been put under scrutiny. The article has been published in the journal Science.

Some of these fishes were true giants in the world of bony fishes, such as the 6 meter (20 feet) long Bonnerichthys that inhabited a seaway covering what is today the state of Kansas, USA.

A previously described species, Leedsichthys, from the Jurassic of Europe that belongs to the same lineage that includes Bonnerichthys was even larger, likely reaching up to about 30 feet, which is the most massive bony fish of all time,” said Kenshu Shimada, co-author of the article and professor in the Environmental Science Program at DePaul University.

Bonnerichthys was first believed to have been similar to a swordfish, with numerous fang-like teeth.

However, our close examination of the specimen showed that such a long snout and fang-like teeth were not present in the fish,” Shimada said. “Rather, with a blunt massive head, the fish had long toothless jawbones and long gill-supporting bones that are characteristic of plankton-feeding fishes.”

*– Matt Friedman, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PR, UK.

– Kenshu Shimada, Environmental Science Program and Department of Biological Sciences, DePaul University, 2325 North Clifton Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614, USA, and Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University, 3000 Sternberg Drive, Hays, KS 67601, USA.

– Larry D. Martin, Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, University of Kansas, 1345 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.

– Michael J. Everhart, Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University, 3000 Sternberg Drive, Hays, KS 67601, USA.

Jeff Liston,Division of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.

– Anthony Maltese, Triebold Paleontology and Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, 201 South Fairview Street, Woodland Park, CO 80863, USA.

– Michael Triebold, Triebold Paleontology and Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, 201 South Fairview Street, Woodland Park, CO 80863, USA.