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Bouncing, 'psychedelic' fish found in Indonesia is a new species

February 27, 2009 |  2:18 pm

It's been a big week for weird fish news: First researchers made a big discovery about the transparent-headed barreleye fish, next a nearly 800-pound giant stingray was found in Indonesia. 

The next weird fish on the scene is so odd that it was actually named Histiophryne psychedelica by a University of Washington professor, and it lives up to its name.  Found last year by scuba instructors in eastern Indonesia, the fish has fins on both sides of its body that have developed leg-like qualities, a trait it shares with other types of frogfish.  It bounces along the ocean floor by pushing off with the leg-like fins, "some with so little control they look intoxicated and should be cited for DUI," according to Science Daily.

But Ted Pietsch, who submitted the DNA work to identify the fish as a new species, explained in the scientific journal Copeia that the new fish differs from the other frogfish in a variety of ways.  The Telegraph explains:

Each time the fish strike the seabed, for instance, they push off with their fins and expel water from tiny gill openings to jet themselves forward. That, and an off-centred tail, causes them to bounce around in a bizarre, chaotic manner.

Mark Erdman, a senior adviser to the Conservation International's marine program, said Thursday it was an exciting discovery.

"I think people thought frogfishes were relatively well known and to get a new one like this is really quiet spectacular.... It's a stunning animal," he said, adding that the fish's stripes were probably intended to mimic coral.

"It also speaks to the tremendous diversity in this region and to fact that there are still a lot of unknowns here -– in Indonesia and in the Coral Triangle in general."

Adult H. psychedelica are human fist-size and have gelatinous bodies with skin folds to protect them from coral.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: Telegraph

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