Check out this cute little critter! It is known to inhabit water around the northern Great Barrier Reef to the southern islands of Japan. It likes clear water near coral reefs whereas the 3 other species of the genus prefer the mud bottom of estuaries.
Previously, it’s been confused with E. belissimus, a close cousin. Researchers Gerald Allen of Australia and John Randell of HI, USA set us straight with their paper, Exyrias akihito, a new species of coral-reef goby (Gobiidae) from the western pacific, [pdf] published in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.
E. akihito was named after the Emperor of Japan. The Emperor doubles as an ichthyologist and has written many papers and books on gobies!
Dr. John Lundberg of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and a team of researchers from Mexico and the U.S. have discovered a new, rarely seen species of catfish representing an entirely new taxonomic family.
The rare find marks only the third new family of fish found in the last 60+ years. It is the 37th family of catfishes.
Researchers named the new family Lacantuniidae. The name comes from the fish’s habitat in the Lacantún river of the southern Chiapas state in Mexico. It is commonly fished by local people who call it “madre de juil” meaning “mother of Rhamdia,” another local catfish.
The species name L. enigmatica is Latin for baffling or inexplicable in reference to the unexpected discovery, obscure relationships and origin of the new catfish. The researchers also suggested the common name “Chiapas Catfish”.
Lundberg, the Academy’s Curator of Ichthyology, said only about 30 of the fish have been found since the 1990s and only one specimen was collected in a recent five-day expedition. “This find reminds us that the most basic scientific inventory of Earth’s biodiversity is woefully incomplete.” Lundberg said.
Anatomical studies aided by high-resolution computer images allowed researchers to pinpoint key differences from other species in the bone structure of the skull, the shape of the air bladder and the articulation of the barbel (the part that resembles a cat’s whisker).
“Realizing now that the Chiapas catfish is highly unusual, it is critical that we learn the details of its diet and habitat requirements and reproductive biology,” Lundberg said. “This will require a focused study of the species in its natural habitat.”
That habitat is of concern to researchers, however. The fish was found in and around Montes Azules, a jungle reserve in a region threatened by logging, expansion of agriculture, cattle ranching, and the damming of rivers.
The researchers’ full scientific report can be found here: Lacantunia enigmatica (Teleostei: Siluriformes) a new and phylogenetically puzzling freshwater fish from Mesoamerica [pdf]
Did You Know: Nearly 3,000 species of catfishes are known and scientists estimate another 1,000 or more remain to be discovered and scientifically described.
A new Smoothound shark was discovered in the Gulf of California / Sea of Cortez by marine biologist, Juan Carlos Perez.
The Reuters article, Biologist discovers new shark species, says the sharks are around 5 feet long. However, the paper published by the biologists, A New Eastern North Pacific Smoothhound Shark (Genus Mustelus, Family Triakidae) from the Gulf of California, says the sample specimen was 113 cm or 3.7 ft. Either way, it’s no JAWS. They prefer to dine on shellfish and shrimp.
The word hacat means shark in the dialect of the Seri Indians from Tiburo´n Island and Sonora, Mexico. The Seri Indians distinguish among several Smoothhound shark species which they named hacat imitaast.
The Mustelus hacat joins a list of 4 other species in the Mustelus genus that are known to roam the same area: M. californicus, M. henlei, M. lunulatus, and M. dorsalis.