June 03, 2010

"Psychedelic" fish species makes top 10 new species list

Remember psychedelica? That very unique-looking species of fish with rare, forward-facing eyes like humans and a body colored with swirls of tan and peach zebra stripes?

This frogfish, Histiophryne psychedelica, was described in scientific literature for the first time last year by Ted Pietsch, Burke Museum curator of fishes and UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences.

Now, H. psychedelica has been named among the top 10 new species described in the year 2009. The International Institute for Species Exploration just announced its annual top 10 list, which can be viewed here.

The fish was first found by divers in the busy harbor of Ambon Island, Indonesia. The species has a flattened face with eyes directed forward, something Pietsch has never seen before in frogfish. Adults are fist-sized with gelatinous bodies covered with thick folds of skin that protect them from sharp-edged corals. Fins on either side of their bodies have, as with other frogfish, evolved to be leg-like, and members of H. psychadelica actually prefer crawling to swimming.

Photo by David Hall/seaphotos.com