The Godzilla goby is the latest new species discovered by the Smithsonian DROP project

As part of the Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP), initiated by the Smithsonian Institution, a new goby fish species was discovered in the southern Caribbean. Living at depths greater than conventional SCUBA divers can access, yet too shallow to be of interest for deep-diving submersibles, the fish will now be known under the common name of the Godzilla goby.

Its discoverers Drs Luke Tornabene, Ross Robertson and Carole C. Baldwin, all affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, have described the species in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Formally called Varicus lacerta, the species name translates to ‘lizard’ in Latin and refers to the reptilian appearance of the fish. Its prime colors are bright yellow and orange, while the eyes are green.

The new goby also has a disproportionately large head and multiple rows of recurved canine teeth in each jaw. This is also why the research team has chosen the common name of the Godzilla goby.

Apart from its lovely coloration, the new fish stands out with its branched, feather-like pelvic-fin rays and the absence of scales.

The scientists caught the Godzilla goby thanks to the manned submersible Curasub, which had already helped in discovering several species over the course of the project. Last year, Drs Ross Robertson and Carole Baldwin had another new goby published in ZooKeys. That time, they even named it after the submersible. Earlier this year, the DROP team also described nine additional new species, many of which were collected by the Curasub.

The manned submersible Curasub reaches depths up to 300 m in search of tropical marine fishes and invertebrates. As a result, it provides new information on the fauna that inhabits poorly studied deep-reef ecosystems.

The sub relies on two hydraulic arms, one equipped with a suction hose, and the other designed to immobilize the fish with an anaesthetizing chemical. That way, not only do the researchers gather live specimens, which once collected, are deposited into a vented acrylic cylinder attached to the outside of the sub, but also individuals suitable for critical DNA analyses.

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Original source:

Tornabene L, Robertson DR, Baldwin CC (2016) Varicus lacerta, a new species of goby (Teleostei, Gobiidae, Gobiosomatini, Nes subgroup) from a mesophotic reef in the southern Caribbean. ZooKeys 596: 143-156. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.596.8217

Zorro, the new Latin American fish species, takes off the mask to show its true identity

Unidentified since its discovery in 2007, a large fish species from Amazonia has failed to give out enough information about itself, leaving only insufficient hints about its genus. Nevertheless, three scientists have now recovered the missing pieces to puzzle out its mysterious identity. In their study, published in the open-access journal ZooKeys, they describe the fish as a new species and name it after the fictional secretive Latin American character Zorro.

The new fish, called Myloplus zorroi, is commonly known among the Brazilians as ‘pacu’ and is a relative to the piranha. The research team, led by Marcelo C. Andrade, Universidade Federal do Para, Brazil, recognised in a fish, collected by sport fishermen from Rio Madeira basin, Brazil, a previously found, yet undescribed species. Following their analysis, it turned out that its discoverers had assumed an incorrect genus for it.

Among the distinctive features of the new fish, which helped its rightful placement, are its characteristic teeth, specialised to crush seeds.

The new pacu species is quite large, growing up to 47,5 cm. It dwells in moderately to rapidly flowing clear rivers, running over rocky or sandy bottoms, and ranging from about 2 to 8 metres in depth. Its basis colour is reddish silver with darker markings running along the upper side of the body. The head is dark and the belly – pale yellow.

Curiously enough, although the name of the new fish is chosen as a tribute to Mauricio Camargo-Zorro, a researcher at the Instituto Federal de Educacao, Ciencia e Tecnologia, in recognition of his invaluable contribution to the fish fauna inventory from the Marmelos Conservation Area, zorroi is also a playful reference to the Latin American fictional character Don Diego de la Vega and his secret identity hidden behind the nickname of Zorro.

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Original source:

Andrade MC, Jegu M, Giarrizzo T (2016) A new large species of Myloplus (Characiformes, Serrasalmidae) from the Rio Madeira basin, Brazil. ZooKeys 571: 153-167. doi: http://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.571.5983.

Undergraduate student takes to Twitter to expose illegal release of alien fish in Japan

Posing a significant threat to the native biodiversity in Japan, specifically that of threatened aquatic insects, some alien fishes, such as the bluegill, have become the reason for strict prohibitions. All activities potentially capable of introducing the species into the wild are currently punishable by either a fine of up to 3 million yen for a person (100 million yen for corporations), or a prison sentence of up to 3 years.

Recently, ten years after the law has been adopted, illegal release of bluegill fish has been reported for the first time with the help of a post on Twitter from Akinori Teramura, undergraduate student at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology and second author of the present study. The case is reported and discussed by him and two scientists, affiliated with Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History, Japan, in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

In June 2015, Akinori Teramura tweeted two photographs of the invasive bluegill fish, both adults and juveniles, along with two young goldfish, which do not belong to the local fauna, either. In his post he identified the species and shared his surprise at the irresponsibility of the people who had released the fish. When lead author Dr Yusuke Miyazaki saw the tweet, he signalled his colleagues with the idea to publish the information as a scientific report.

The student found them in an outdoor public pool in Yokohama city, Japan, while it was being cleaned before being opened ahead of the summer. Usually, these facilities are closed to the public during the colder seasons and it is then when native aquatic insect species, such as dragonflies and diving beetles, find spawning and nursery habitats in them. Curiously enough, though, the pool had been isolated from natural waters since its construction.

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Therefore, the researchers conclude that the alien fishes have most likely been released from an aquarium from a local shop or an aquarist who no longer wanted them. However, the authors note that according to the law, keeping bluegill fish in a home aquarium is illegal as well.

“Our report demonstrates an example of web data mining in the discipline of Citizen Science,” say the authors. “Web data mining has been rapidly developing over recent years, and its potential continues to expand.”

“Community awareness of this issue needs to be improved, and widespread reporting of cases such as this one will help,” they conclude.

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Original source:

 

Miyazaki Y, Teramura A, Senou H (2016) Biodiversity data mining from Argus-eyed citizens: the first illegal introduction record of Lepomis macrochirus macrochirus Rafinesque, 1819 in Japan based on Twitter information. ZooKeys 569: 123-133. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.569.7577

‘Hidden fish’ genus described for 2 new weakly electric mormyrid species from Gabon

A new weakly electric mormyrid fish genus of two new species has been described from only three specimens collected over a period of 13 years in the rivers of the Central African country of Gabon. The genus has been named Cryptomyrus, meaning ‘hidden fish’ in Greek, and is the first new genus to be described within the family Mormyridae since 1977.

The study, authored by Dr. John Sullivan and Prof. Carl Hopkins of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and Sebastien Lavoue of the Institute of Oceanography at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, is published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

“It’s odd we have only three specimens, given how much fish collection effort there’s been in Gabon over the past years,” says lead author Dr. John Sullivan. “Not having more made the descriptions difficult, but it was important to bring this discovery to light without further delay.” Sullivan added that he does not know if these fish are rare throughout their range or if specialists simply have not sampled localities or habitats where they are common, yet. “It shows that we still have a very incomplete picture of fish diversity in Gabon,” says Dr. Sullivan.

The last of the three specimens was found on an expedition to Gabon’s Ogooue River in September 2014, jointly sponsored by CENAREST and The Nature Conservancy. It was after nightfall on the Ogooue, beside Doume Falls, when Sullivan and the other team members caught the one odd fish in a plastic fish trap baited with earthworms. Reflecting its river of origin, the species now bares the name Cryptomyrus ogoouensis, while the second – Cryptomyrus ona, is named after Gabonese environmental activist Marc Ona Essangui.

Puzzled over the identity of the fish, back home at the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates Dr. Sullivan remembered two somewhat similar specimens collected in Gabon and sent to him for identification by his colleagues Sebastien Lavoue and Yves Fermon, 11 years apart. “This is why we need natural history collections,” said Dr. Sullivan, “to keep these specimens and their DNA samples in good condition, because it can take years or even decades to connect the dots.”

Analyses of the DNA from the three specimens conducted at Cornell University showed they were close relatives and did not belong within any recognized genus. “That left us no choice but to describe them as a new genus, and Cryptomyrus, which means “hidden fish,” seemed an appropriate name given how hard they are to find,” said Dr. Sullivan.

Over 200 species of mormyrid fish live in fresh waters across Africa where they orient to their environment and communicate using electric pulses, too weak to be felt by humans, in combination with highly sensitive electroreceptor cells embedded in their skin.

The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization that works in more than 35 countries around the world, funded the 2014 expedition of the Ogooue. “We were thrilled to have contributed to this discovery,” said Marie-Claire Paiz, Gabon Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. “Our goal is to help Gabon acquire better baseline knowledge about the state of their fish and rivers which will enable them make science-guided choices about where and how to use their resources wisely for both people and nature.”

“The Nature Conservancy deserves a lot of credit,” commented Sullivan. “It’s a great example of how a conservation organization can promote the discovery of biodiversity by partnering with taxonomists and natural history museums.”

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Original Source:

Citation: Sullivan JP, Lavoue S, Hopkins CD (2016) Cryptomyrus: a new genus of Mormyridae (Teleostei, Osteoglossomorpha) with two new species from Gabon, West-Central Africa.ZooKeys 561: 117-150. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.561.7137

Long-snouted Amazonian catfishes including three new species to form a new genus

Being close relatives within the same genus, eight catfishes showed enough external differences, such as characteristic elongated mouths, hinting to their separate origin. Following a thorough morphological as well as molecular analysis, a team of researchers suggested that five previously known species along with three new ones, which they have found during their survey, need a new genus to accommodate for their specificity. The study, conducted by a Brazilian research team from Universidade Estadual Paulista and led by Dr. Fabio F. Roxo, is available in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

Among other physical peculiarities, the longer snout-like mouths of the herein discussed catfishes is a characteristic that sets them apart. This is also why the authors have chosen the name of Curculionichthys for the proposed genus, formed by the Latin word for “elongated snout” and the suffix “ichthys” meaning “fishes” in Greek.

Furthermore, one of the new species the researchers describe in the present paper surprises with its several dark-brown spots spread across its body. This colouration is unlike any other in its relatives that have various pigment patterns, yet never dark brown spots.

However, other overlapping morphological features as well as the closeness in the species’ researched habitats suggest they have a common ancestor, once lived in the Amazonian drainages.

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Original source:

Roxo FF, Silva GSC, Ochoa LA, Oliveira C (2015) Description of a new genus and three new species of Otothyrinae (Siluriformes, Loricariidae). ZooKeys 534: 103-134. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.534.6169