Scientists Stumble Upon Dazzling New Fish Species In Atlantic Ocean's Twilight Zone

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Stunning male Tosanoides aphrodite found in the ocean’s twilight zone (Photo Credit: Luiz Rocha/California Academy of Sciences)

While the discovery of a new species is always newsworthy, that of a fish spectacular enough to be named Tosanoides aphrodite, after the Greek goddess of love and beauty, is even more so! Hudson Pinheiro and Luiz Rocha were exploring the deep-sea coral reefs, nearly 400 feet underwater, around Brazil’s Saint Peter and Saint Paul archipelago when they spotted the dazzling pink and yellow fish. The California Academy Of Sciences researchers were so mesmerized by the colorful ocean-dweller that it was only later, when viewing the video footage, that they noticed the 10-foot sixgill shark which had been hovering above.

Twilight Zone (Image Credit: bishopmuseum.org)

Suspecting they may have stumbled upon a new species, the researchers spent the rest of the day looking for specimens. Using hand nets, Pinheiro and Rocha managed to capture three adult males, two adult females, and two juvenile females and bring them to the Research Institute’s laboratory for examination. Sure enough, DNA tests and observational analysis, performed with help from fellow ichthyologist Claudia Rocha, revealed several unique features. These include a long spine and an extra fin ray which has never been seen in a fish before.

The Tosanoides aphrodite, which measure between 2 and 3.1 inches (5 – 8 cm) in length, vary in color depending on gender. While males sport neon pink and yellow stripes, the females are a more staid, solid blood-orange. The scientists are not sure why these small fish would need such extravagant colors deep in the ocean. “The prevailing hypothesis is that they use these colors as camouflage since there is no red or blue light there, but male and female are so different that they must be using it for something else,” says Claudia Rocha.

Male (top) and Female Tosanoides aphrodite (Photo Credit: Luiz Rocha/California Academy of Sciences)

The discovery is even more significant, because the Tosanoides aphrodite is the only member of its genus to be found in the Atlantic Ocean. Its three cousins, the Tosanoides filamentosus, the Tosanoides flavofasciatus, and the Tosanoides obama - named after former US President Barack Obama in 2016 - all reside in the Pacific Ocean.

The researchers, who revealed the gorgeous fish in the peer-reviewed journal ZooKeys on September 25, 2018, hope their discovery will highlight the importance of preserving our coral reefs, which are being destroyed due to climate change. "In a time of global crisis for coral reefs, learning more about unexplored reef habitats and their colorful residents is critical to our understanding of how to protect them," says Luiz Rocha.

Resources: Natgeo.com, Smithsonianmag.com, zookeys.pensoft.net

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1220 Comments
  • bsc
    bscSaturday, March 6, 2021 at 6:49 am
    So beautiful! Hopefully we'll be able to discover more types of new fish and animals down in the twilight zone. 🤗
    • unipug2
      unipug2Monday, March 1, 2021 at 1:05 pm
      How gorgeous
      • dinobasketball7
        dinobasketball7Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 8:47 am
        so pretty!!!!!!
        • peachy_vsco
          peachy_vscoWednesday, February 10, 2021 at 4:45 am
          That fish is so pretty! I will look for it when I go swimming in the Ocean.🌊
          • kittylover111
            kittylover111Friday, February 5, 2021 at 6:46 am
            Yea! I love them, super colorful! Follow me if you agree!
            • naruto_jutsu
              naruto_jutsuWednesday, November 25, 2020 at 3:09 pm
              i know so adorible
              • fish_are_cute
                fish_are_cuteThursday, October 8, 2020 at 4:40 pm
                the fish is colorful and adorable. it kinda looks like my tourqoise rainbow fish besides their colors.
                • cutipiekittycat
                  cutipiekittycatThursday, April 9, 2020 at 9:11 am
                  sooooooooooooo cool!
                  • cutipiekittycat
                    cutipiekittycatThursday, April 9, 2020 at 9:11 am
                    sooooooooooooo cool!
                    • xxhoneymilkxx
                      xxhoneymilkxxThursday, March 5, 2020 at 8:20 am
                      there bright.