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Mysterious 'yawning fish' discovered off Indonesia

M. Snyder,

(Read caption) A new species of angler fish makes its debut in the pages of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

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I had a chance to do some snorkeling in Indonesia’s portion of the “coral triangle” in December 2007. The triangle has been compared with the Amazon rain forest in terms of its biodiversity. It’s a key section of the ocean that countries in the region, environmental groups, and other international players want to protect.

This yawning fish may be one reason why.

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. I can hear strains of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" now....


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