Sharks and Fishes

Ammoglanis diaphanus. A pencil catfish from the Rio Javaes, Tocantins State, Brazil, first described in 1994 by Wilson Costa. Feeds on other fishes by attaching itself to their gills and sucking their blood.

Armored stickleback. Indostomus paradoxus. Small fish discovered in Lake Indawgyi, Myanmar, in 1926. Has the unusual ability to move its head vertically.

Blind loach. Paracobitis smithi. A river loach that lives in underground pools at high altitude in the Zagros Mountains, Iran. Discovered in 1976.

Borneo river shark. Glyphis species B. Rediscovered in 1997 in the Kinabatangan River, Sabah State, Borneo, Malaysia. It was previously known only from a single specimen taken in an unnamed river in Borneo in the 1890s and preserved in a Viennese museum.

Camotillo. Normanichthys crockeri. A 4.5-inch sculpin completely covered with scales. Discovered off the coast of Chile in 1935.

Coelacanth. Latimeria chalumnae. The Coela-canth is the only surviving member of a group of lobefin fishes that dates back 400 million years to the Early Devonian. No fossil coelacanths have been found that are more recent than the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. Although the coelacanth is classed as a bony fish, its backbone is cartilaginous, and it has other features that are similar to the sharks and rays. Found in the Indian Ocean around the Comoro Islands and off Mozambique, Madagascar, and South Africa, this remarkable-looking fish was discovered near the mouth of the Chalumna River off East London, South Africa, on December 22, 1938, by the crew of the fishing trawler Nerine. It was inspected by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, curator of the local museum, who contacted fossil fish expert J. L. B. Smith at nearby Grahamstown. Smith immediately recognized it as a fossil lobefin fish and formally described it in 1939. Another specimen was caught on December 20, 1952, when a Comoro Island fisherman named Ahamadi Abdallah netted it off An-jouan Island. Hans Fricke, of the Max Planck Institut, was the first to film coelacanths under water in January 1987 using a submersible vessel. Other groups of coelacanths were discovered off Toliara, Madagascar, in 1995; in Sodwana Bay, South Africa, in October 2000; and off Milindi, Kenya, in 2001. A second species, Latimeria menadoensis, was obtained on July 30, 1998, by Mark and Arnaz Erdmann in the Pacific Ocean off Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is the same as the Comoran coelacanth, except that its color is brown with gold flecks. J. L. B. Smith, Search beneath the Sea: The Story of the Coelacanth (New York: Holt, 1956); "The Coelacanth—50 Years Later," ISC Newsletter 8, no. 1 (Spring 1989): 1-16; Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, "Reminiscences of the Discovery of the Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae Smith," Crypto-zoology 8 (1989): 1-11; Peter L. Forey, The History of the Coelacanth Fishes (New York: Chapman and Hall, 1998); Samantha Weinberg, A Fish Caught in Time: The Story of the Coelacanth (New York: HarperCollins, 2000); "Indonesian Coelacanths," Fortean Times, no. 144 (April 2001): 66.

Crossocheilus sp. nov. This catfish, discovered in 1997 in the Vu Quang Nature Reserve in Vietnam, measures between 8 and 10 inches and weighs over 3 pounds. It has a golden stripe on its back and a silver stripe on its belly. It appears to be abundant: within fifteen minutes, Nguyen Thai Tu caught eighteen specimens. The local Vietnamese people catch the fish for food.

Life-sized reproduction of a Coelacanth created by master taxidermist Bob Davis, at Fantastic Fish Mounts, Fort Myers, Florida. (Loren Coleman)

Denticle herring. Denticeps clupeoides. Herringlike fish with small teeth covering the bottom of its head. Discovered in 1959 in West Africa.

Freshwater whipray. Himantura chaophraya. First reported from the Chao Phraya and Mekong Rivers in Thailand, specimens of this huge (11-16 feet long, with a body disc width of 3-7 feet) stingray were captured between 1987 and 1989.

Ghost knifefish. Magosternarchus duccis. An electric fish, discovered in the Amazon Basin by John Lundberg and described in 1996, that only eats the tails of other electric fish.

Giant catfish. Pangasius gigas. The world's largest freshwater bony fish grows up to 8 feet long and inhabits the Mekong River from Vietnam all the way to China's Lake Tali, where it spawns. First described in 1930.

Giant roughy. Hoplostethus gigas. Discovered in 1914 by Harald Dannevig in the Great Australian Bight, this 21-inch fish was not seen again until late 1998, when it turned up in a Port Adelaide fisherman's catch.

Grasseichthys gabonensis. One-inch-long fish discovered in the Ivindo River basin, Gabon, in 1964. It lacks scales, teeth, and a lateral-line sensory system and has only rudimentary gills.

Hairyfish. Mirapinna esau. Described in 1956

from a lone specimen caught in 1911 north of the Azores, this 2.5-inch fish has bodily outgrowths that look like hair, a spiny tail, and pelvic fins. Some of its fins' rays are long, resembling wings.

Hawaiian morwong. Cheilodactylus vittatus. An uncommon Pacific species first found in 1923 off the Hawaiian island of Laysan.

Helcogramma vulcanum. Three-fin blenny found in volcanic islets in the Banda Sea, Indonesia. First described in 1993.

Iran cave barb. Iranocypris typhlops. Blind carp species discovered in 1937 in caves along the upper Tigris River, Iran.

Iraq blind barb. Typhlogarra widdowsoni. Blind carp species discovered in 1953 at Al Hadi thah, Iraq.

Jack Dempsey. Cichlasoma octofasciatum. Pugnacious cichlid found from Mexico to Brazil and now common as an aquarium fish. First described by C. Tate Regan in 1903.

Javelin spookfish. Bathylychnops exilis. Pikelike sea fish with six eyes that allow it to see at depths of 3,000 feet. Discovered in 1958 off British Columbia.

Lamprogrammus shcherbachevi. A 6-foot, tropical marine cusk-eel taken in midwater and bottom trawls and first described in 1993.

Leopard chimaera. Chimaera panthera. A deep-sea ratfish distinguished by leopardlike spots covering the body and fins. Described by Dominique Didier Dagit in 1998 from a specimen in the National Museum of New Zealand.

Lipophrys heuvelmansi. A yellow blenny found in the Adriatic Sea and first described in 1985. It was named after cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans. François Charousset, "Un nouveau poisson trouvé en Méditerranée," Clin d'Oeil, November 1985, pp. 10-15.

Megamouth shark. Megachasma pelagios. The sixth-largest species of living shark, 14-17 feet long and weighing more than 1,600 pounds, first collected 26 miles northeast of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands on November 15, 1976. A second specimen was taken off Santa Catalina Island, California, in November 1984, and a third washed up on a beach near Mandurah, Western Australia, in 1988. At least eleven others have turned up since in Japan, southern Brazil, Senegal, South Africa, off San Diego, and off Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines. The head and mouth of this shark are unusually long and wide (hence its name), with thick lips, 400 small teeth arranged in 236 rows, and a luminescent mouth lining. The animal feeds on plankton. The first megamouth was found to harbor a completely new genus and species of tapeworm (Mixodigma leptaleum). Formally described in 1983 by Leighton Taylor, Leonard J. V. Compagno, and P. J. Struhsaker, who placed it in a new family, Megachasmidae. Kazunari Yano, John F. Morrissey, Yoshitaka Yabumoto, and Kazuhiro Nakaya, eds., Biology of the Megamouth Shark (Tokai, Japan: Tokai University Press, 1997).

Mexican blind cave fish. Astyanax fasciatus mexicanus. Unpigmented fish related to the neon tetra, discovered in 1936 in Cueva Chica, Chuquisaca, Mexico. Now a common aquarium fish.

Neon tetra. Paracheirodon innesi. Discovered in the Rio Putumayo on the border of Colombia and Peru in 1936, this now common aquarium fish gets its name from the iridescent stripe on its flanks.

Oman moray. Gymnothorax megaspilus. Moray eel that grows to 2 feet long and has a black spot near its gill opening. Discovered off the Kuria Muria Islands near the coast of Oman in 1995.

Orangeblotch gaper. Chaunax suttkusi. Sea toad found in the Caribbean Sea and first described by J. H. Caruso in 1989.

Red-finned blue-eye. Scaturiginichthys ver-meilipinnis. Small, translucent, red-finned fish discovered in artesian springs near Aramac, Queensland, Australia, in 1990.

Salamanderfish. Lepidogalaxias salamandroides. Scaly, small fish discovered in seasonal pools between the Blackwood and Kent Rivers in Western Australia in 1961.

Shoal bass. Micropterus cataractae. Known by anglers for at least fifty years before it was recognized as a distinct species in 1999, this bass resembles the spotted bass except for differences in coloration, scales, and dentition. Found in the Apalachicola River drainage of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

Siamese fighting fish. Betta splendens. Well known in Thailand and even in some European aquariums before being described in 1909 by C. Tate Regan.

Six-gill stingray. Hexatrygon bickelli. Flabby, deep-water stingray with a long snout discovered at Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in 1980. It has six pairs of gill slits instead of five.

Spined pygmy shark. Squaliolus laticaudus. The smallest shark. This wide-ranging species was discovered in 1908 in Batangas Bay, Luzon, Philippines, and described in 1912. The male is less than 6 inches long.

Vu Quang river carp. Parazacco vuquangensis. Discovered in 1992 by Nguyen Thai Tu in the Vu Quang Nature Reserve in Vietnam.

Widemouth blindcat. Satan eurystomus. An unpigmented catfish discovered in an artesian well near San Antonio, Texas, sometime before 1938. Described by Carl L. Hubbs and R. M. Bailey in 1947.

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