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New fish species

New MAR-ECO fish species identified

Three years after it was collected, Ingvar Byrkjedal and Alexei M. Orlov’s description of a new species of fathead sculpin has been published.

The business of identifying a new species is laborious and exacting. Taxonomists must be exacting and fastidious in their work. Identifying this particular fish was especially difficult as this is the only specimen ever collected. Suspecting that the specimen might represent a new species, Byrkjedal ensured that it received great care from the moment it came on board the GOSars during the cruise summer 2004. It was first deep frozen and then, shortly after it arrived at Bergen Museum, it was conserved in 70% ethanol.

The protocol described by Nelson (1982) was followed so that the measurements taken could be standardised. All measurements were taken relatively shortly after collection and handling so as to minimize possible changes. The readable paper by Byrkjedal and Orlov published in ZOOTAXA online edition explains that there are nearly 30 species of fathead sculpins. The new species, Cottunculus tubulosus, differs from most of the other members of the genus Cottunculus in a number of significant ways.

It most closely resembles C. spinosus described in 1906 from specimens captured in South African waters, but differs in some easily identifiable characteristics. Unfortunately all the museum material of C. spinosus have been lost and it has only been possible to compare the new species specimen with the original description of C. spinosus, including some drawings, by Gilchrist (1906).

Read the highly readable and informative paper by Byrkjedal and Orlov.

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