Two new species of the gorgonian inhabiting barnacles Conopea saotomensis and Conopea fidelis have been collected from the area surrounding the historically isolated volcanic islands of So Tom and Prncipe. The barnacles of this genus are widely spread across the temperate and tropical oceans, but what makes them special is that they occur exclusively in a symbiotic relationship with a gorgonian or black coral hosts. Observations suggest that the barnacles might have a unique ability to recognize and choose a specific host of their preference. The study was published in the open access, peer-reviewed journal ZooKeys.
The islands near which the two new species of Conopea were found are the products of large shield volcanoes originating 3,000 m below the ocean's surface along the Cameroon line. So Tom and Prncipe are particularly old islands, 13 and 30 millions of years old, respectively, and form part of the Gulf of Guinea island chain known for its remarkable natural beauty. The islands are home to a large number of endemic birds and plants such as the world's smallest ibis, the So Tom Ibis, and the world's largest sunbird, the Giant Sunbird. Being of volcanic origin and 274 km west of northern Gabon, the islands have never been connected to the African mainland. Such a historica
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