Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

There Be Dragons: New Deep-sea Predator Species Discovered

Date:
March 24, 2004
Source:
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution
Summary:
Dr. Tracey Sutton, a fish ecologist at the HARBOR BRANCH Oceanographic Institution in Ft. Pierce, Fla., has discovered a new species in a bizarre and elusive family of deep-sea predatory fish known collectively as dragonfish.

FT. PIERCE, Fla. -- Dr. Tracey Sutton, a fish ecologist at the HARBOR BRANCH Oceanographic Institution in Ft. Pierce, Fla., has discovered a new species in a bizarre and elusive family of deep-sea predatory fish known collectively as dragonfish. The find, reported in the current issue of the journal Copeia, is the first new dragonfish species discovered in more than a decade.

The first specimen of the new species, dubbed Eustomias jimcraddocki, was large, compared to the average pencil-sized dragonfish at about six inches long and roughly the size of a hot dog. Sutton named it after Jim Craddock, a legend in the deep-sea fish biology field.

Sutton discovered the fish during an expedition to Bear Seamount, off New England, that was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean Exploration. Now the head of HARBOR BRANCH's Fish and Plankton Ecology Department, he was at the time a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

"The fact that we are still finding new species in one of the best-studied oceanic regions in the world tells us there is still a lot more out there to be known," says Sutton, who is also a leader in the ambitious international effort to identify all ocean animal and plant species known as the Census of Marine Life.

Sutton plucked the new dragonfish from a net being used to sample the study area's marine life. While identifying the catch on board, he realized that the specimen represented a new species. Later he traveled to the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard to do some fish sleuthing. In museum collections at those institutions, he found 13 additional specimens collected in the Atlantic over the past 30 years that had previously been either unidentified or misidentified. This work verified that the new species was in fact unique.

Dragonfish are so rare that scientists have often been forced to study and describe new species based on a single specimen. "I really wanted more than just one fish," says Sutton, "so I was relieved to find more."

As with all dragonfish, which live at depths ranging from about 600 to 3,000 feet, the new species has menacing teeth, and a mouth that can jut out to engulf prey as wide as it is. They also have small organs along their bellies that produce light, or bioluminescence, and that may serve as camouflage to make the fish blend in with faint sunlight from above, thus appearing invisible to potential predators below.

The distinguishing feature of dragonfishes is a long thin protrusion known as a barbel anchored at the fish's chin that trails below its body. The barbels look like tree branches, and each species has a unique barbel pattern. At the end of the barbel is a bioluminescent organ the animals use like a fishing lure to attract prey, mainly lanternfish. If the barbels served only this function, scientists would expect all dragonfishes to have similar barbels. However, because the protrusions are so varied, some theorize the fish may also use them to identify other members of their own species for reproduction.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. "There Be Dragons: New Deep-sea Predator Species Discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040324071052.htm>.
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. (2004, March 24). There Be Dragons: New Deep-sea Predator Species Discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040324071052.htm
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. "There Be Dragons: New Deep-sea Predator Species Discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040324071052.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother DIY: Pumpkin Pom-Pom

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) — How to make a pumpkin pom-pom. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — A collection of dinosaur bones reveal a creature that is far more weird and goofy-looking than scientists originally thought when they found just the arm bones nearly 50 years ago, according to a new report in the journal Nature. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins