Meet Histiophryne psychedelica, discovered a year ago in Indonesia and just described by Pietsch et al. in the February edition of Copeia. I’ve never seen a weirder fish, and what’s even more amazing is that it moves by hopping along the ocean floor using jets of water expelled from the gill slits. You can read more about it, and see its bizarre “hopping” behavior, at the National Geographic website here.
If you’re a biologist, or somebody who just likes biology, tell me that you don’t get a frisson of excitement from seeing this thing. Nature always coughs up creatures weirder than we can imagine.
Photographs by David J. Hall, from Pietsch et al. paper
A Bizarre New Species of Frogfish of the Genus Histiophryne (Lophiiformes: Antennariidae) from Ambon and Bali, Indonesia
Theodore W. Pietsch, Rachel J. Arnold, David J. Hall
A new species of frogfish of the teleost order Lophiiformes, family Antennariidae, is described from three specimens collected in shallow waters off Ambon and Bali, Indonesia. A member of the antennariid genus Histiophryne, the new taxon differs substantially from its congeners in having a broad flat face, surrounded by thick, fleshy, laterally expanded cheeks and chin, with eyes directed forward; skin of the body thick and loose, forming conspicuous fleshy folds that envelop the unpaired fins; a remarkable pigment pattern of white swirling stripes radiating from the eyes and continuing back to the body and tail; genetic divergence in the nuclear recombination activation gene-2 (RAG2), cytochrome oxidase-I (COI), and 16S rRNA genes; and a set of behavioral traits not previously known in fishes. The new species is described and compared with its congeners. Notes on habitat, locomotion, pigment pattern and camouflage, predation and defense, and reproduction and parental care are also provided.