Two New Caribbean Jawfish Species Described
12 Apr, 2017
“Descriptions of a new genus and two new species of Caribbean deep-water jawfishes (Teleostei: Opistognathidae)” by William F. Smith-Vaniz, introduces two new species of Caribbean Jawfishes. (Published April 6th, 2017, in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation.)
The new Pygmy Jawfish
From the paper:
“A new genus and species of deep-water jawfish, Anoptoplacus pygmaeus, n. gen. n. sp., is described on the basis of two specimens collected off Arrowsmith Bank, Yucatán, Mexico, trawled in 240‒267 m. Although only 20.5‒22.5 mm standard length, they exhibit sexual dichromatism, appear to be adults, and have a number of reductive characters generally characteristic of miniaturization in fishes.
“Both specimens have a darkly pigmented upper lip and a black stripe on basal third to fourth of dorsal fin, body and fins mostly unmarked except for the male, which also has a narrow black stripe along base of anal fin and head and body with scattered tiny melanophores.
“The presumed sexual dichromatism exhibited by the two available specimens strongly suggests that they are both adults. Unfortunately, positive sex determination by visual or histological examination was considered to be impractical. The pronounced reduction in meristic features of this species is a common trend associated with miniaturization that has occurred repeatedly in many other families of marine and freshwater fishes.”
Learn more about A. pygmaeus in the first segment of the open access paper, available here.
The Head-Turning Schrier’s Jawfish
Named in honor of Adriaan (Dutch) Schrier, owner of Substation Curaçao in Willemstad and the ‘Curasub’ submersible,” Opistiognathus schrieri has the potential to join the legions of rarely seen, extremely expensive aquarium fishes collected from the depths of Curaçao in the Southern Caribbean.
This new jawfish was discovered at approximately 152 meters depth (500 feet) at “Curaçao, Willemstad, near Curaçao Sea Aquarium, off aquarium submersible downline.” Other specimens of this jawfish were observed inhabiting a transition zone between sand and pea-sized rubble. Two males were used to describe this species, which may represent another smaller jawfish; the holotype came in at only 48 mm SL, with the paratype an even smaller 42.8 mm SL (1.9 to 1.7 inches standard length).
Perhaps of greatest interest to aquarists, besides the obvious attractive appearance of the small new jawfish, is the story of how this species came to be described, including the pivotal role played by aquarium livestock collector and exporter Dynasty Marine.
From the paper’s acknowledgements:
“Thanks also to Ben Daughtry (Dynasty Marine, Inc.) for first realizing that the holotype of the new Curaçao jawfish might be something special, and to Forrest Young (Dynasty Marine) who generously made the live fish available for science instead of selling it to an interested buyer. Carole Baldwin (USNM) called attention to the second specimen of O. schrieri and provided helpful comments on the manuscript. Zachary S. Randall (UF), D. Ross Robertson (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute), Carole Baldwin, and Forrest Young provided color photographs of the types of O. schrieri. Sandra Raredon (USNM) provided digital x-rays and Howard L. Jelk (U.S. Geological Survey, Gainesville, Florida) prepared the distribution map. Rob Robins (UF) provided curatorial help and processed loan material. William D. Anderson, Jr. gave advice on construction of the new generic name. This is Ocean Heritage Foundation/Curaçao Sea Aquarium/Substation Curaçao (OHF/SCA/SC) contribution number 29.”
Read the full description of both new jawfish species in the open access paper, available online now!
Smith-Vaniz, William F. (2017). Descriptions of a new genus and two new species of Caribbean deep-water jawfishes (Teleostei: Opistognathidae). Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation, 26, 46–58. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.495490