Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scientists determine 7 innovative varieties of fish

Things are not always what they seem when it comes to fishï something researchers at the Smithsonian Institution and the Ocean Science Foundation are finding out. Using current hereditary psychoanalysis, combined with traditional examination of morphology, the researchers discovered that what were once believed to be three species of blenny in the genus Starksia are actually 10 distinct species.

Starksia blennies, small (less than 2 inches) fish with stretched out bodies, generally native to shallow to moderately deep rock and coral reefs in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans, have been well-studied for more than 100 years. It would have been reasonable to assume that there was little about the group left to discover. Modern DNA bar-coding techniques, however, suggested otherwise. While trying to match larval stages of coral reef fish to adults through DNA, the team of researchers noticed contradictions between the preliminary genetic data and the current species classification. Further investigation revealed that the team was dealing with a number of species new to science, including the new Starksia blennies.

"DNA analysis has offered science a great new resource to examine old questions," said Carole Baldwin, a zoologist at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and main author of the paper. "This discovery is a perfect example of how DNA barcoding is illuminating species that we've missed before, especially small cryptic reef fishes like Starksia blennies. We don't know where we stand in terms of understanding species diversity, and our work suggests that current concepts appears to be surprisingly incomplete".........

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