Friday 26 April 2013

A new species of Jawfish from the coast of Kerala State, India.

Jawfish (Opistognathidae) are small members of the Perch Order that dwell on shallow tropical reefs. They are small elongate fish resembling Blennies. Jawfish dwell in burrows on sandy substrates, emerging to feed on plankton and other small prey, and defending the burrow by spitting sand at interloping fish. They are mouthbrooders, with the eggs and fry being kept safe in the mouth of their father.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 23 October 2012, William Smith-Vaniz of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida and K.K. Bineesh and K. V. Akhilesh of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Cochin describe a new species of Jawfish from a single specimen caught by a trawler of the Kerala coast.

The new species is placed in the widespread genus Opistognathus, and given the specific name pardus, meaning Leopard, due to a distinctive pattern of spots on its head. The only known specimen is a 10 cm male fish caught at a depth of between 110 and 220 m off the coast of Quilon in southern Kerala. It is pinkish with a distinctive pattern on its head and sulphur-yellow fins.

The only known specimen of Opistognathus pardus, the Leopard Jawfish. Smith-Vaniz et al. (2012).

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