A bizarre-looking creature was determined to be a new species of sunfish, the first such discovery in more than 100 years. This newest species was named the Hoodwinker sunfish and was detected in more than just one location in the world.
The Hoodwinker’s Latin name is Mola tecta. As the study lead goes to explain, the team chose this name based on the creature’s elusive name, as tectus means “hidden” or “disguised”. Marianne Nyegaard, part of the Murdoch University led this new study.
The Bizarre Creature is Common but Nonetheless Elusive
The Hoodwinker sunfish was discovered as a team of scientists was analyzing the genetics of the ocean sunfish population. According to their report, they are not actually the first to identify this new species.
Ten years ago, a team of Japanese researchers detected genetic evidence of the existence of this bizarre creature. However, this still eluded discovery as the scientists had no idea what it could look like.
“The new species managed to evade discovery for nearly three centuries by ‘hiding’ in a messy history of sunfish taxonomy, partially because they are so difficult to preserve and study, even for natural history museums,” states Nyegaard.
Together with her team, the lead analyzed and collected data from 27 Hoodwinker specimens. In doing so, they had to travel across many miles and to remote locations. The species can be found in the cold waters of South Africa, New Zealand, southern Chile and also on the southeast coast of Australia.
This bizarre creature has a smooth and slender body. It presents no noticeable lumps or bumps and hasn’t got a protruding snout. It is quite different in aspect from the two other discovered sunfish species and is also larger.
Hoodwinker sunfish specimens were noted to range in size as they were in between 50 centimeters to almost two and a half meters big.
Research results are now available in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
They are the first to discover and confirm the existence of a new species of sunfish in 130 years. The last such discovery led to the identification of the Southern ocean sunfish.
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