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

delica have no lures. Most anglerfish have lures growing out of their foreheads. The other anglerfish sit right out in the open on the seafloor or coral reefs, often adapting their coloring so their bodies are camouflaged, but the lures are meant to be noticed so the fish wave, wiggle and sometimes blink the lures on and off in order to attract pray, Pietsch says.

Instead of all that showiness, members of H. psychedelica are shy and secretive, probably one of the reasons they weren't previously spotted. When a member of H. psychedelica is uncovered by divers it usually seeks a new place to hide within 10 or 15 minutes.

And while other anglerfish change their coloring depending on the environment, the new species appears to maintain its wild striping no matter the surroundings.

The coloring led co-author David Hall, a wildlife photographer and owner of seaphotos.com, to speculate that the fish is mimicking corals. Indeed, Hall produced photos for the new scientific paper showing corals the animals may be mimicking.

The other co-author, Rachel Arnold, who is a UW master's student in aquatic and fishery sciences, did the DNA work on the new species. Arnold, who dove in Ambon Harbor last year, said the striping of each fish is distinctive, "like a fingerprint of patterning on their body so from whatever angle you look, you can tell individuals apart."

The scientists found, however, that the vivid colors faded in a matter of days once a specimen was preserved in ethanol. The flesh of the preserved specimen looks white, but with a microscope one can still see the striping, Pietsch discovered.

This got him thinking about two specimens sent to him in 1992 that he'd kept as part of the UW's fish collection. The Dallas Aquarium had sent him two frogfish, found in a shipment of live fishes from Bali that they said had unusual pigment patterns. The staff had nicknamed them "paisley frogfish." But the photog
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Contact: Sandra Hines
shines@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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