Saturday 21 April 2018

Arachnanthus lilith: A new species of Tube Anemone from the Red Sea.

Tube Anemones, Ceriantharia, are tube-dwelling Cnidarians related to Corals and True Anemones. They are popular with aquarium keepers and underwater photographers, but relatively understudied by marine biologists. Tube Anemones are solitary animals, each living in a fibrous tube into which they can withdraw. They have two rows of tentacles surrounding their mouths, an outer row of larger stinging tentacles used for defence and food capture, and an inner row of smaller tentacles used for food manipulation.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 4 April 2018, Sérgio Stampar and Suraia El Didi of the Laboratório de Evolução e Diversidade Aquática at the Universidade Estadual Paulista, Gustav Paulay of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, and Michael Berumen of the Red Sea Research Center of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, describe a new species of Tube Anemone from the Red Sea Coast of Saudi Arabia.

The new species is named Arachnanthus lilith, in reference to the Demon Lilith, a mythical monster from the Middle East, said to be sexually wanton and prone to stealing babies. This is a small species, reaching about 42 mm in length, and 4-6 mm wide. The outer tentacles are 3-5 mm in length and translucent with 2-4 brown bands and pores marked by concentration of green fluorescent protein. The species was found along the southern Red Sea Coast of Saudi Arabia from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Farasan Islands.

Arachnanthus lilith. (A), (B) Whole specimens. (C)–(D) Live specimens in nature. (E) Dissected specimen with detail of acontioids (arrows) (scale bar 2 mm). (F) Detail of oral disc with detail on tentacular pores with green fluorescent protein. Stampar et al. (2018).

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