A newly discovered species of frogfish with psychedelic pigment
Ted Pietsch and colleagues from the University of Washington discovered a new species of fish with a psychedelic pigment pattern.
In June 1992, staff from the Dallas Aquarium found two frogfish with an unusual pigment pattern amid a shipment of live fish from Bali. The “paisley anglers” arrived in poor condition and didn’t last long. They were preserved in ethanol and shipped to Pietsch for study.
Unbeknownst to the scientists, the fish’s color fades in ethanol. So Pietsch, making only a superficial examination, placed the seemingly unremarkable white fish on a shelf and ignored them for 16 years.
In January 2008, Toby Fadirsyair, a guide, and Buck and Fitrie Randolph, two of the co-owners ofMaluku Divers in Ambon Island, Indonesia, spotted a psychedelic fish. The local diving community had never seen anything like it, so photos were sent to Pietsch, who wrote “I can say that in my 40 years studying frogfishes, and anglerfishes in general, I have never seen one quite like this.”
Detailed study, including DNA analysis, supports Pietsch’s original conclusion – these fish are a new species of Histiophryne, frogfish whose leg-like fins allow them to hop along the sea floor.
Another unique feature of the psychedelic fish – its eyes face forward, suggesting that, like humans, it may have binocular vision. Most fish have eyes on each side of the head, so each eye’s field of vision does not overlap.
Re-examining the 16-year-old “paisley angler” specimens, Pietsch found that though their skin appeared white, the distinctive striping pattern was visible under the microscope.
Pietsch will have the honor of giving the new species a scientific name. The current favorite?Histiophryne psychedelica.
Source: “A Bizarre New Species of Frogfish of the Genus Histiophryne (Lophiiformes: Antennariidae) from Ambon and Bali, Indonesia” by Theodore W Pietsch, Rachel J. Arnold and David J. Hall, published in the February issue of Copeia.