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DNA evidence is in, newly discovered species of fish dubbed H. psychedelica
Date:2/24/2009

008 by Toby Fadirsyair, a guide, and Buck and Fitrie Randolph, two of the co-owners of Maluku Divers, which is based in Ambon. They and co-owners Andy and Kerry Shorten eventually found Pietsch to help them identify the fish. Since the first sighting divers have observed a number of adults and juveniles, now that they know what to look for.

Adults of H. psychedelica are fist-sized with gelatinous bodies covered with thick folds of skin that protect them from sharp-edged corals as they haunt tiny nooks and crannies of the harbor reef. Fins on either side of their bodies have, as with other frogfish, evolved to be leg-like, and members of H. psychedelica actually prefer crawling to swimming. See a QuickTime video of them crawling at http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=47496.

The species has a flattened face with eyes directed forward. It's something Pietsch, with 40 years of experience studying and classifying fishes, has never seen before in frogfish. It causes him to speculate that the species may have binocular vision, that is, vision that overlaps in front, like it does in humans. Most fish, with eyes on either side of their head, don't have vision that overlaps; instead they see different things with each eye.

DNA work revealed that H. psychedelica joins two other species in the genus Histiophryne, though the other two are very drably colored in comparison. The genus is but one of about a dozen in the family Antennariidae, known as frogfish in most places in the world. The frogfish are, in turn, part of the larger order of Lophiiformes, or anglerfish. Pietsch is the world's foremost anglerfish authority and, when sent a photo last year of the newfound fish, he said he'd stake his reputation that it was an anglerfish.

He was right. But what an unusual member it turned out to be.

Compared to other anglerfish, members of H. psyche
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Contact: Sandra Hines
shines@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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