RSS New species of Lipogramma basslet potentially discovered in Dominica

MASA Admin

8 May 2007
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Lipogramma klayi is a beautiful and delicate looking species of Caribbean basslet which is no stranger to the pages of Reef Builders. We’ve written about this species at length over the years and now it seems like it may one day have a sister species, or at least an easily identifiable morph.

The Curasub has been making research dives far away from its normal home in Curacao for the last couple of months. It seems that they’ve been finding some really cool new fish at great depths in Dominica because the same Chapman Expedition that brought us a potentially new Decodon species of hogfish may have also discovered a new Lipogramma species.

The unique pink and yellow basslet has a very similar resemblance to the Lipogramma klayi fairy basslet but with some notable differences. It’s hard to tell if it is a photographic artifact but the Lipogramma sp. ‘Dominica’ appears to have a more rosey pink head color compared to the lilac purple ‘true’ Klayi basslet.

Lipogramma sp. from Dominica above compared to a true Lipogramma klayi from Curacao below. Photo by Chapman Expedition.

However the most obvious and significant difference between the classic L. klayi and the one from Dominica is the much more pointed anal and dorsal fins. The tail fin is also different with two nearly filamentous extensions which almost give the Lipogramma sp. ‘Dominica’ a lyretail appearance compared to the smoother outline of a typical L. klayi.

Senior Ichthyology researcher of the Chapman Expedition Dr. Carol Baldwin is quick to point out that “Discovering new species is rarely a “eureka” experience — it takes time and effort. Describing something new takes even more work” and that this is merely a it’s a putative new species based on differences in fin shape and color.

We won’t know for sure whether Lipogramma sp. ‘Dominica’ is indeed a new species until a thorough analysis of morphology and genetics is performed. It’s exciting to see even potential new species of beautiful little reef fish being discovered in the Caribbean, even if it is at great depths, and we look forward to hearing more about the special Lipogramma from Dominica. [Dominica News Online]

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