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Name of new weakly electric fish species reflects hope for peace in Central Africa
Date:4/10/2014

Two new species of weakly electric fishes from the Congo River basin are described in the open access journal ZooKeys. One of them, known from only a single specimen, is named "Petrocephalus boboto." "Boboto" is the word for peace in the Lingala language, the lingua franca of the Congo River, reflecting the authors' hope for peace in troubled Central Africa.

On a 2010 field trip to the Congo River of Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the riverside village of Yangambi-Lokl, French ichthyologist Sbastien Lavou of the Taiwan Institute of Oceanography and American ichthyologist John Sullivan of Cornell University, both specialists on mormyrid weakly electric fishes, captured a single individual of the genus Petrocephalus not quite like any they had seen before.

"Sbastien has the best eye of anyone in the world for Petrocephalus," says Sullivan. So when he wasn't certain what species it belonged to, we flagged it as one to look at carefully once we got home."

As they had for hundreds of other Petrocephalus specimens collected in Central Africa since the late 1990s, they placed the small, silvery fish in a small basin with water from the river and recorded its electric organ discharge (EOD) with an oscilloscope, humanely euthanized it, took its photo, procured a tissue sample for DNA analysis, tagged it and preserved it in formaldehyde.

Petrocephalus are African weakly fishes of the family Mormyridae that produce pulses of only a few hundred millivolts from an organ made of modified muscle cells in front of their tail. Receptor cells on the fishes' skin detect distortions to the electric field created by nea
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Contact: John P. Sullivan
jpsullivan@cornell.edu
607-342-2234
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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