UW Today

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June 3, 2010

H. psychadelica makes top-10 new-species list

A species of fish with rare, forward-facing eyes like humans and a body colored with swirls of tan and peach zebra stripes has made the list of top 10 new species.

The International Institute for Species Exploration just announced its annual list and included the frogfish Histiophryne psychedelica, which was described in scientific literature for the first time last year by Ted Pietsch, UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences.

The fish was found 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.

The top-10 list also includes a minnow with fangs, a golden orb spider and a carnivorous sponge. They were selected by the International Institute for Species Exploration and an international committee of taxonomists from species that were described for the first time in 2009.