Biologist discovers new stingray genus

Mar 03, 2011 By Karen Ho

A biologist from the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) has discovered a new kind of tropical freshwater stingray.

Nathan Lovejoy, an associate professor of ecology and at UTSC, is co-author on a new study detailing the discovery of a new genus and two new of stingrays found in the upper Amazon.

Lovejoy’s 10 years of research with his collaborator, Marcelo Rodrigues de Carvalho of the University of Sao Paolo, confirmed the first new genus of stingrays from the Amazon region in more than two decades.

“It took a considerable amount of time to collect enough specimens to describe the species,” says Lovejoy, who sometimes had to compete with international fish exporters for the bigger examples. “They are uncommon fishes and therefore difficult to obtain.”

Their work in the Upper Amazon confirmed the new genus, Heliotrygon, and the two new species, Heliotrygon gomesi and Heliotrygon rosai. Both are known for their large size, pancake-like appearance, having a distinct pattern of lateral line canals on the ventral surface and a degenerate spine.

Most of Lovejoy and Carvalho’s specimens came from the Rio Nanay River, near Iquitos, Peru. Their discovery brings the total number of Neotropical stingray genera to four. Before their study, the last new of stingrays of Amazon was described in 1987.

“The most important thing this discovery tells us is that there are quite likely to be other large fishes in the yet to be discovered and described,” says Lovejoy. “Our understanding of the biodiversity of this region is not complete, by any stretch of the imagination.”

Lovejoy’s paper was recently published in the scientific journal Zootaxa.

Explore further: Factors that drive sexual traits

Related Stories

Fish use electric signals to find the right mate

Jun 11, 2009

Electric knifefish, close relatives of the electric eel, navigate and communicate by projecting electric fields around their bodies. Research at University of Toronto is clarifying how this sense has evolved, as well as providing ...

Jaguar-like species of catfish discovered in the Amazon

Mar 02, 2011

A series of expeditions to explore the unknown biodiversity of the forests of the northern margin of the Amazon River in Brazil yielded a new species of catfish, researchers from Brazil announced today. Published ...

An early ape shows its hand

Aug 08, 2007

Fossils often have provided important insights into the evolution of humans and our ancestors. Even small fossils, such as bones from the hand or foot can tell us much about our ancestor’s and their behavior. Such may be ...

New fish discovered in the Bellingshausen Sea

Mar 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The new species of Antarctic fish, Gosztonyia antarctica, has been discovered at a depth of 650 metres in the Bellingshausen Sea in the Antarctic Ocean, an area which has not been studied ...

Recommended for you

Factors that drive sexual traits

55 minutes ago

Many male animals have multiple displays and behaviours to attract females; and often the larger or greater the better.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.