RSS Eviota punyit, a new cryptic goby species revealed by DNA

MASA Admin

8 May 2007
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Eviota punyit is the latest new species of dwarf goby to join the ever expanding roster of Eviota species. Unlike so many other species which are identified primarily based on their appearance and color pattern, Eviota punyit was confirmed primarily through genetic analysis of closely related species.

The newly described Eviota punyit was recognized as distinct from the very similar looking Eviota sebreei. Eviota punyit and E. sebreei form what s known as a geminate species pair, or two species from a common ancestor displaying a very similar color and pattern.


The closely related Eviota sebreei, photographed here in Raja Ampat by Bob Fenner

E. sebreei is primarily found in the West Pacific, E. punyit is found from the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Indonesia, and they both overlap in the Coral Triangle. It is believed that these two related dwarf gobies became distinct species when they were separated by the Indo-West Barrier, and then their ranges overlapped once sea levels rose.

Surely this isn’t the last we’ll here of geminate species pair in Eviota or other groups of reef fish and future research will reveal many more cryptic species when genetic analysis is performed. The new species Eviota punyit is officially described by Tornabene et. al. in the Journal of Fish Biology.


Photographs of Eviota punyit in a) West Papua, b/c) Brunei and d) Banda Sea by Mark Erdmann

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