School kids name new reef fish

February 11, 2014

Primary school children in Sydney have named a newly identified species of reef fish, recently described by a University of Sydney ichthyologist.

The 's stripy markings have earned it the moniker tigrellus (little tiger), at the suggestion of students who visited the Macleay Museum's booth at the Australian Museum's Science Festival Expo last year.

A specimen of the fish - collected in the southern Red Sea by a Russian colleague - was sent to the Macleay Museum's natural history curator and resident ichthyologist Dr Tony Gill earlier in the year. Although similar to the existing Xenisthmus genus the specimen lacked scales, leading Dr Gill to create a new genus. He named it Gynmoxenisthmus (from the Greek gymnos, meaning naked) but couldn't settle on a species name.

Dr Gill took the opportunity to enlist help from primary-school students attending August's Expo, inviting them to suggest and vote on names based on the fish's appearance. Among labels touted were kofta, bongo, candy cane, Pippy Longstockings and tiger. In the end little tiger (tigrellus) won the vote and the new species Gymnoxenisthmus tigrellus has just been named in the journal Zootaxa.

Gymnoxenisthmus tigrellus is from the gobioid fish family Xenisthmidae. Dr Gill has named half of the 14 xenisthmid species discovered so far alongside about a third of the 150 known species in another family (the dottybacks, family Pseudochromidae).

"This indicates how recently many of these reef fish have been discovered," says Dr Gill. Each year around 400-500 new are discovered, with most coming from coral-reef and freshwater habitats. Efforts are also made to understand the distribution and abundance of each species, but our understanding is usually very limited.

"Without knowing the populations of most reef we don't know how much human activity is impacting on them."

Explore further: University of Sydney taxonomist names new family of fish

More information: Read about Gymnoxenisthmus tigrellus here: www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2014/f/zt03755p495.pdf

Related Stories

Artificial reef in Red sea teems with life

August 20, 2013

In 2007, an artificial reef designed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers was placed in the Gulf of Eilat to reduce environmental pressure on the region's natural reef. Now teeming with life, a new study ...

Reef fish find it's too hot to swim

November 27, 2013

We all know the feeling, it's a hot summer afternoon and you have no appetite and don't want to do anything apart from lay on the couch.

Recommended for you

A novel toxin for M. tuberculosis

August 4, 2015

Despite 132 years of study, no toxin had ever been found for the deadly pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which infects 9 million people a year and kills more than 1 million.

Volcanic bacteria take minimalist approach to survival

August 4, 2015

New research by scientists at the University of Otago and GNS Science is helping to solve the puzzle of how bacteria are able to live in nutrient-starved environments. It is well-established that the majority of bacteria ...

New biosensors for managing microbial 'workers'

August 4, 2015

Super productive factories of the future could employ fleets of genetically engineered bacterial cells, such as common E. coli, to produce valuable chemical commodities in an environmentally friendly way. By leveraging their ...

Fish that have their own fish finders

August 4, 2015

The more than 200 species in the family Mormyridae communicate with one another in a way completely alien to our species: by means of electric discharges generated by an organ in their tails.

0 comments

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.