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

rby objects in the water. In this way, they are able to "electrolocate" through their complex aquatic environment at night. Their short electric pulses, too weak to be sensed by touch, are also used to communicate the sender's species identity and gender to other electric fishes.

When Sullivan and other researchers collect live electric fishes in the field, they routinely make recordings of these EODs, one fish at a time, so that they can later study and compare the signals and the specimens' anatomy together. Specimens are individually tagged so that after they are preserved and placed in a museum collection, they remain linked to their EOD recordings. "With these electric fishes it is often difficult to determine where the species boundaries are, and we need all the available evidence, from morphology, DNA and their EODs to figure it out," Sullivan said. In this case, the EOD of this odd Petrocephalus was not so different from EODs of other species in this genus.

Back in his laboratory in Taipei, Lavou sequenced the gene cytochrome b from the specimen. Comparing this sequence to those from other Petrocephalus specimens and careful examination of the fish's morphology and its EOD helped him determine that it belonged to an undescribed species. "Describing a new species from a single specimen is far from ideal," Lavou said, "but in this case it seemed the best thing to do. In the places we've sampled, it's obviously very rare. Since we haven't yet found any locality where it's common, it's unlikely we'll find such a locality anytime soon."

Lavou and Sullivan named this species "Petrocephalus boboto": the word "boboto" means peace and fellowship in the Lingala language spoken along the Congo River.

"We named this hard-to-find Petrocephalus species "boboto" in the hopes that solutions for peacethough elusive like this fishcan be found in eastern D.R. Congo and the other troubled areas of Cen
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Contact: John P. Sullivan
jpsullivan@cornell.edu
607-342-2234
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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