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Mysterious ‘yawning fish’ discovered in Maluku JAKARTA - Until January 2008, no one knew it existed, or if they did, they weren’t talking. A husband and wife team who were part owners of a dive shop in Ambon City, Indonesia, along with the shop’s dive guide, took the first known photos of the fish. They shared the photos with Ted Pietsch, a marine scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, who said last year that the critter appeared to represent an unknown family (in the biological-classification sense) of angler fish.

Now, thanks to DNA results, he says it’s a new species. And as the first to describe the fish in the scientific literature, he gets the naming rights: Histiophryne psychedelica. Folks figure these fish have been hard to find because their bodies are a bit like mush, allowing them to wriggle into and out of nooks and crannies other fish would avoid. They use their fins to help them “walk” through crevices. And unlike most fish, the eyes on these flat-faced “frogfish” appear to look forward, rather than to the sides, suggesting they may have binocular vision, like humans do.

Ironically, Dr. Peitsch has long had a couple of these striped wonders in a collection he curates at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. They came to him in 1992 courtesy of the Dallas Aquarium. The folks in Dallas had received them in a shipment from Bali. But by the time he got the preserved specimens, they were white. So onto the back shelves they went.

Only after he looked at them under a microscope, so the story goes, did he see faint stripes similar to those in the images of living specimens.



Posted in Environment @ 25 February 2009 04:35 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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