New Species of Colorful Golden Bass Discovered on Caribbean Coral Reef

First Posted: May 19, 2014 11:48 AM EDT

Scientists have discovered a colorful, new species of fish that makes its home on warm, Caribbean coral reefs. The new species, called Liopropoma santi, is a sea bass with a mostly-yellow body and fins and resembles two other previously discovered "golden basses."

This new species was only discovered after DNA analysis. In fact, scientists originally believed that there was only a single species of golden bass living on the deep reefs off of Curacao. Yet by examining the fish a bit more closely, looking at their distinct color patterns, morphology and DNA, the researchers determined that there are actually three different species.

"This underexplored zone between 60 and 300 m in the tropical southern Caribbean is revealing extraordinary biodiversity, including a wealth of new species of beautifully colored fishes," said C. Baldwin, one of the researchers, in a news release. "It's a zone that science has largely missed because it's too deep to access using scuba gear, and deep-diving submersibles rarely stop at such shallow depths."

In this case, the researchers found that the new species, commonly named the "spot-tail golden bass," is most closely related to another new deep-reef golden bass called Liopropoma olneyi. It's also more related to members of a related genus, Bathyanthias, than to species of Lipropoma such as the candy and peppermint basses found on shallower reefs.

"With Bathyanthias falling out within the western Atlantic Liopropoma clade, further study of the classification of this group is needed," said Baldwin in a news release.

The findings reveal a little bit more about this new species and show that there could be far more creatures left to discover at these depths. Because very little research has been done in this area, scientists could be in store for more discoveries in the future.

The findings are published in the journal ZooKeys.

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