25, 2009—A recently discovered "psychedelic"
fish (shown in a January 2008 picture) is bouncing
into the books as a new species, a new study says.
With a swirl of
beige and peach stripes stretching from its blue
eyes to its tail, the newly named Histiophryne
psychedelica was initially discovered by scuba
diving instructors working for a tour operator
a year ago in shallow waters off Indonesia.
The operator contacted
Ted Pietsch, lead author of a paper published
in this month's edition of the journal Copeia,
who submitted DNA work identifying the psychedelic
fish as a new species.
Like other frogfish—a
subset of anglerfish—H. psychedelica has
leglike fins on both sides of its body.
But it has several
traits not previously known among frogfish, wrote
Pietsch, of the University of Washington.
Each time the fish
strike the seabed, for instance, they push off
with their fins and expel water from tiny gill
openings to jet themselves forward. That and an
off-centered tail cause them to bounce around
in a bizarre, chaotic manner.
Mark Erdman, a senior
adviser to the Conservation International's marine
program, said, "I think people thought frogfishes
were relatively well known, and to get a new one
like this is really quite spectacular. ... It's
a stunning animal."
The fish, which
has a gelatinous, fist-size body covered with
thick folds of skin that protect it from sharp-edged
corals, also has a flat face with eyes directed
forward, like humans, and a huge, yawning mouth.