What has at least 1,800 teeth, a snout like a duck, a suction cup on its belly, and has only ever been seen in a couple of old museum specimen jars? The clingfish family’s newest member.
(From Live Science / By Stephanie Pappas) — Nettorhamphos radula is a brand-new species found in a specimen jar from the 1970s in the collection of the Western Australian Museum in Welshpool, Australia. The teensy translucent fish is just a few inches long, but it sports between 1,800 and 2,300 teeth in its duckbill-like mouth.
“It’s the teeth that really gave away the fact that this is a new species,” fish taxonomist Kevin Conway, one of the discoverers of the new fish and a professor at Texas A&M University, said in a statement.
Clingfish are known for the suction-cup-like disk on their bellies, an appendage that lets them stick to surfaces in the face of forces of up to 150 times their own body weight. (Part of the secret are tiny hairs, or microvilli, that create high friction and ensure that even dead fish can cling.)
Conway and Glenn Moore of the Western Australian Museum found the new fish while sorting through specimen jars, examining animals that had been collected and shelved until someone had a chance to look at them. The new clingfish waited a long time: It had been caught in 1977 off the coast of Southern Australia.
No one has ever seen N. radula in the wild, but Conway and Moore quickly found a second specimen hiding in the same museum. They used computerized tomography (CT) scanning to peer inside the fish, as a doctor would peer inside a wrenched knee. Using the scans, the researchers 3D-printed large models of the fish jaws for closer analysis.
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