Northern bottlenose whale

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

The Grant Zoology Museum in London has announced a Whale Weekender this weekend (8th – 9th July).

Members of the public are invited to come along and help clean the bones of a Northern bottlenose whale and then assist in reassembling the skeleton.

The “great fish” as it was called was caught 157 years ago by two Somerset fisherman and was a sensation at the time. The eight metre long carcass went on a tour of the west country and the skeleton was then put on display hanging from the ceiling of the museum in Weston-super-Mare.

It was dismantled in 1948 and then transferred to the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in London. Although the skull has remained on display there has never been space to display the entire skeleton so the rest of the bones have been held in storage.

This weekend offers the first opportunity to check if the skeleton is complete, all the bones will be brought together for cleaning before being laid out in their entirety and for the first time the largest specimen in the museums collection will be properly seen.

  The whale bones ready to be brought out for cleaning and assembly.      Image: Jack Ashby, Grant Zoology Museum

The northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) is a species of bottlenose whale belonging to the family Ziphiidae, and is one of two members of the genus Hyperoodon. The northern bottlenose whale is endemic to the NorthAtlantic Ocean and was heavily hunted in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Mature specimens measure around 10 metres in length and are estimated to weigh in the region of 5,800 to 7,500 kilograms. The species is significantly larger than the related Southern bottlenose whale of the southern hemisphere. The beak is long and white on males but grey on females. The falcate (sickle-shaped) dorsal fin is relatively small and set far back on the body.

It is one of the deepest diving mammals known, reaching depths of 1453 m hunting for squid and fish near the sea floor and staying submerged for an hour or more. Despite being a deep diving species they are sometimes seen, in small numbers, playing and resting in shallow waters and can be playful and curious towards human vessels.

A Northern bottlenose whale was in the news in 2006 when one was spotted in the Thames reaching up river as far as the Albert bridge. Attempts to rescue it failed and its skeleton is now in the Natural History Museum, London.

Northern bottlenose whale Painting: Archibald Thorburn (1920-21)

Hyperoodon ampullatus (Forster, 1770) – the Northern bottlenose whale


Hyperoodon – Greek, Hypero-, hyperoon (υπερων), the upper part of the mouth, the palate; -odon, odous (οδους), tooth. “Hyperoon, in Greek, means palate; and odos means tooth.” * Named in reference to the presence of teeth on the surface of the palate.
*Lacépède, 1804

ampullatus – Latin, ampull-, ampulla, a vessel with two handles, a flask, bottle, jar; -atus, suffix indicating possession or likeness. Name likely alluding to the shape and the common name of the time, “… is called by the sailors Bottle-nose … has a head like a bottle…”*
*Forster, 1770


Starlet anemone

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

A small sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis, has recently featured in a number of news stories regarding the future possibility of regenerating human heart tissue.

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists from the University of Florida have found genes known to help form hearts cells in humans in the gut of Nematostella vectensis. Interestingly, this anemone has the capacity to regenerate and, if cut into pieces, each piece has the capacity to grow into a new animal.

Image: Whitney Lab for Marine Bioscience

The scientists believe that if they can learn how these genes give rise to heart cells that they may be able to figure out how to improve muscle regeneration in humans. Once genes are turned on in humans to create, for example, heart cells they cannot become any other type of cell, they can only be heart cells. In the anemone this fixation does not occur leaving cells free to become other types of cells or to fulfil other functions.

Cell regeneration in the human heart is limited to a slow replacement of damaged cells resulting in a build-up of scar tissue.

With further study its hoped to find ways of improving communication between human genes, mimicking the anemone’s capacity to regenerate, and advance our ability to treat heart conditions through regenerative healing.

Image: National Museums Northern Ireland

Nematostella vectensis is a small sea anemone with a bulbous basal end and a contractile column ranging in length from around 2 to 6cm. Usually found buried up to the crown in fine silt or sand, with its tentacles flared out on the surface of the sediment. When not feeding the tentacles retract into the column

At the top of the column is an oral disk containing the mouth surrounded by two rings of long slender tentacles numbering between fourteen and twenty, the outermost being longer than the inner ones. It is translucent and largely colourless but usually has a pattern of white markings on the column and white banding on the tentacles.

It is found on the eastern and westward seaboard of North America with a range extending from Nova Scotia to Louisiana on the east coast and from Washington to California on the west coast. It is also known from three locations in the United Kingdom, two in East Anglia and one on the Isle of Wight. Typically found in shallow water in brackish ponds and lagoons, and in ditches and pools in salt marshes.

Nematostella vectensis is used as a model organism in a number of fields including developmental biology, ecology, the study of evolution, reproductive biology. and has a dedicated genomics database. It is easy to care for in captivity and reproduces readily in the laboratory.

Nematostella vectensis Stephenson, 1935 – Starlet sea anemone


Nematostella – Greek, Nemato-, nematos (νηματος), that which is spun, thread, filament; Latin, -stella, star. Likely alluding to the thread-like form of the tentacles and the star-like markings surrounding the oral disc.

vectensis – Latin, of, or coming, from the Isle of Wight; vectis, an island south of Britain (classical – Pliny). The type locality for the species is at Bembridge, on the Isle of Wight.

ESF Top 10 New Species list 2017

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

A species of freshwater stingray, Potamotrygon rex, a swimming centipede Scolopendra cataracta, and a marine worm Xenoturbella churro, all feature in this year’s ESF Top 10 New Species list.

The list, an annual event established in 2008, is compiled by ESF’s International Institute for Species Exploration and comprises the Top 10 species from among the thousands of new species named during the previous year, selected by an international committee of taxonomists and calls attention to the fact that new discoveries are being made even as species are going extinct faster than they are being identified.

The list is published around May 23 each year to coincide with the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy.

Potamotrygon rex Carvalho 2016

Dorsal view of juvenile specimen
Image: Marcelo R. de Carvalho

This large, strikingly patterned freshwater stingray is endemic to the Tocantins River in Brazil and is among the 35 percent of the 350 documented fish species in the Tocantins River that are found nowhere else on Earth. The type specimen is 1,110 mm in length. Large specimens may weigh up to 20 kg.

The stingray has a blackish to blackish-brown background colour, with intense yellow to orange spots that, combined with its size, earn it the title “king.” The discovery of such a large and brightly coloured ray highlights how incompletely we know fishes of the Neotropics.


Potamotrygon – Greek, Potamo-, potamos (ποταμος), river, stream; Latin, trygon, (Greek τρυγων) a stingray.

rex – Latin, absolute monarch, king – named for its large size and striking color pattern

Scolopendra cataracta Siriwut, Edgecombe & Panha, 2016 – Waterfall Centipede or Swimming Centipede

The largest reported centipede, with a maximum recorded body length of around 20 cm.
Image: Siriwut, Edgecombe and Panha

This new centipede is black, has 20 pairs of legs and is up to 20 cm in length. It is the first species of centipede ever observed to be able to plunge into water and both run along the stream bed, in much the same manner as on dry land, and swim with eel-like horizontal undulations of its body. It would appear to have a hydrophobic surface as out of water, water rolls off the centipede’s body leaving it totally dry.

The species, with its surprisingly adept swimming and diving abilities, was discovered under a rock but escaped into a stream where it rapidly ran to and hid under a submerged rock. A member of the predominant centipede genus in tropical regions, the centipede’s amphibious ability is unprecedented. Its population status is of concern because of habitat destruction, including tourist activities, along streams and river embankments where the new species is found.


Scolopendra – Latin, (Greek σκολοπενδρα), a kind of multipede, millepede.

cataracta – Latin, a waterfall. Named for the Tad E-tu Waterfall where the type was collected

Xenoturbella churro Rouse, Wilson, Carvajal & Vrijenhoek, 2016

Discovered deep in the Gulf of California, 1,722 meters below the surface, Xenoturbella churro is a 10 cm-long marine worm, one of half a dozen species now known in the genus. It is representative of a group of primitive worm-like animals that are the earliest branch in the family tree of bilaterally symmetrical animals, including insects and humans. Like some of its relatives it’s believed to feed upon mollusks, such as clams. Curiously, much like coelenterates (corals, anemones, etc.) they have a mouth, but no anus.

Dorsal view. Image: Greg Rouse


XenoturbellaGreek, Xeno-, xenos (ξενος), a guest, stranger, foreigner; foreign, strange; Latin turbella a little crowd, a bustle, stir, diminutive of turba crowd – referring to the cilia which produce minute whirls in the water.

churro – Spanish, a type of fried pastry. The new species is uniformly orange-pink in color with four deep longitudinal furrows that reminded the authors of a churro, a fried-dough pastry popular in Spain and Latin America.

See also: ESF Top 10 New Species list 2016

The Vaquita

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

17th May 2017

The Vaquita

The rarest marine mammal in the world, Phocoena sinus, the Vaquita is in grave danger of extinction as a result of illegal fishing.

Vaquita. Image: Paula Olson (NOAA)

The Vaquita, a 1.4 metre long porpoise, is in danger as a side effect of the illegal trade in Totoabo swim bladders driven by the Chinese black market. The swim bladders are considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine and are believed by many Chinese to be a treatment for fertility, circulatory, and skin problems. Although those from domestic waters are preferred these are now exceedingly rare having been intensively fished for decades. This has driven a highly lucrative illegal trade in Vaquita fishing to the Gulf of Mexico with the bladders commanding an average price of $20,000 per kilogram making them a more valuable commodity than cocaine or elephant ivory.

The Totoabo, Totoaba macdonaldi, is the largest member of the drum family Sciaenidae, it grows up to two metres in length and is itself a rare endangered species; formerly an abundant species it has been subject to intensive fishing, subsequently commercial fishery was banned in 1975.

Totoaba. Image: FOA

It is believed that there may be as few as 30 Vaquita left in the northern Gulf of Mexico and that they could become extinct within months. The population has been largely eradicated as by-catch of the illegal Totoaba fishing.

The fish, along with the porpoises, are captured in gill-nets, currently banned by the Mexican government. This ban expires at the end of May and on Tuesday the conservation group WWF called on Mexico to introduce and enforce a permanent ban on all gill-nets saying, “The last hope for the species is the Mexican government immediately putting in place and properly enforcing a permanent ban.”

With extinction looming an emergency plan is being put in place to try to round up a few individuals and place them in a sanctuary, the success of the plan is uncertain as the capture and relocation of Vaquita has not been previously attempted.

The common name vaquita comes from Spanish meaning little cow.


Phocoena sinus Norris & McFarland, 1958, the Vaquita.

Phocoena – Greek, phokaina (φωκαινα), porpoise.

sinus – Latin, a bay, bight, gulf. “The specific name sinus was suggested to Norris and McFarland by Carl L. Hubbs and is Latin, meaning bay, referring to the occurrence of the species in the Gulf of California.”

Ref. RL Brownell Jr. 1983 Mammalian Species, No. 198, Phocoena sinus. The American Society of Mammalogists

Totoaba macdonaldi  (Gilbert, 1890), the Totoaba.

Totoaba – Eytmology unknown. Name likely of native American origin.

macdonaldi – Latinized surname. Likely honouring US fisheries scientist Marshall McDonald, (1835 – 1895), commissioner of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries (1888-1895).

Land crab migration

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

3rd May 2017

Land crab migration

It’s that time of the year when land crab migrations tend to be in the news. The most recent reports are on the migration of red, yellow, and black land crabs in Cuba marching from the inland forests down to the sea at the Bay of Pigs. The species of land crabs involved in the Cuban migration is Gecarcinus ruricola.

Image: P.Lindgren

After the first spring rains millions of female crabs migrate to the sea to spawn before returning to their burrows in the forests. In around 20 days the reverse will happen with millions of crab larvae emerging from the sea and migrating to the forests to spend the rest of their lives on land.

Image: Jonathan Wilkins

The land crab breeding migration is an annual event but varies in timing and intensity from year to year. It usually starts anytime from mid April to mid May and can last for up to 3 months, sometimes with a peak in mid May, sometimes with no obvious peak in activity. The migrations show some correlation with moon phase but are more strongly influenced by rainfall, though not in any consistent way.


Gecarcinus ruricola (Linnaeus, 1758) variously called the Purple Land Crab, Black Land Crab, or Red Land Crab

Gecarcinus – Greek, Ge-, gh (γη), earth, ground, land; carcinus, karkinos (καρκινος), crab.
ruricola – Latin, that lives in or belongs to the country, rural, rustic.

Note: the proliferation of common names owes to the existence of numerous colour morphs of this species including black, red, yellow, and green.

New Species of Clingfish

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

25th April 2017

The Duckbilled Clingfish

A new species of clingfish has been described in the journal Copeia.

Clingfishes are fishes belonging to the family Gobiesocidae. They possess modified pelvic fins that form a suction disc which enables them to cling to objects such as rocks, algae, and seagrass in areas of surge, and even to the bodies of larger fish.

Generally small fish (most species less than 7cm in length), they inhabit shallow water throughout tropical and temperate seas, and are particularly found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

They typically have scaleless tapering bodies with a single dorsal fin and a flattened head, cryptic colouration, and a thick layer of protective mucus (toxic in some species). A number of species live in association with sea urchins or crinoids.

Image: Conway and Moore

This new species is remarkable for the extraordinary number of teeth it possesses. Whereas previously described clingfishes may exhibit something in the region of 100 to 200 teeth Nettorhamphos radula is estimated to have as many as 1800 to 2300 teeth. These are laid out in 15 regular rows along each side of the upper jaw (40 to 50 teeth per row) and 10 regular rows along each side of the lower jaw (30 to 40 teeth per row), as opposed to the more usual small patch of teeth tapering off to a single row in both upper and lower jaw seen in the majority of other species.

Close up of the teeth. Image: Conway and Moore

Two specimens of the new species were discovered in the collection of the Western Australian Museum. They were previously undescribed specimens collected at a depth of 30 – 40 metres in a 1977 trawl of algae and sponge covered reefs offshore of Fremantle, Western Australia.


Nettorhamphos radula Conway, Moore 2017, the Duckbilled Clingfish.

Nettorhamphos Greek, Nett-, nhtta (νηττα), duck; -o-, connective vowel;rhamphos, ramphos (ραμφος), bill, beak.

radula – Latin, a scraping-iron, scraper. “In reference to the many tiny conical teeth on the lingual surface of the premaxilla and dentary, which are reminiscent of the radula of a snail.”

Ref. Conway, Moore, and Summers 2017. A New Genus and Species of Clingfish (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae) from Western Australia

Pink Floyd pistol shrimp

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

13th April 2017

Pink Floyd pistol shrimp

A new species of pistol shrimp, a small, burrowing crustacean with one oversize claw has been described in the journal Zootaxa.

Pistol shrimps, also known as snapping shrimps, possess a disproportionately large claw, up to half the shrimp’s body in length depending on species. Unlike the usual pincer arrangement of most shrimp claws this features a pistol-like structure made of two parts, a joint allows the hammer part to be cocked backward into a right-angled position, when released it snaps into the other part of the claw creating a high-pressure cavitation bubble capable of stunning small fish and invertebrates, emitting a distinctive “cracking” sound at the same time. The sound produced can be as loud as 210 decibels and is one of the loudest natural sounds in the ocean competing with much larger animals such as whales.

Image: Arthur Anker

Pink Floyd happens to the favourite band of Sammy De Grave (of Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History), one of the researchers, who had always wanted to honour the band if he found a shrimp featuring pink colouration. The new species, around 5.5 millimetres in length, is smooth and semitransparent with a greenish tinge, but does possess a colourful large claw, “an intense, almost glowing pink-red,” hence the choice of name.

Dr De Grave has previously named a species of Eucarid shrimp after Rolling Stones singer, Mick Jagger – Elephantis jaggeri Klotz & De Grave, 2015.

The Oxford team had some Pink Floyd-themed artwork created to mark the discovery, featuring the shrimp in fictitious covers for the Pink Floyd albums Animals and The Wall. The Wall cover shows S. pinkfloydi superimposed over the Museum of Natural History in the style of the original artwork from the album, while the Animals cover shows the crustacean taking the place of a dirigible pink pig floating above London’s Battersea power station:

“Another shrimp in the wall”
Image copyright: Kate Pocklington


“The shrimp”
Image copyright: Chris Jarvis


Synalpheus pinkfloydi was discovered off the Pacific coast of Panama and is closely related to a western Atlantic sister species, S. antillensis, identified in 1909.


Synalpheus pinkfloydi Anker, Hultgren, De Grave, 2015, the Pink Floyd pistol shrimp.

Synalpheus – Greek, Syn-, sun (συν), together, along with: –alpheus, Alpheios (Αλφειος), whitish; a river in Greek mythology; a river-god.

pinkfloydi – Latinized name. “Named after the well-known British rock band Pink Floyd, inspired by the bright pink-red claw of the new species.”

Invasive aquatic species

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

29th March.
Invasive Species Week

As 27 March – 2 April is Invasive Species Week 2017 in the UK I thought I’d take a look at the etymology of a few of the more important aquatic invasive species.

Invasive species week is an initiative of the Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS) and the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) with the aim of raising awareness about invasive species in the UK.
Among the invasive species listed on the NNNS website there are 39 aquatic, semi-aquatic, or aquatic associated species, these range from fairly large mammals such as the Chinese Water Deer and American Mink, through a number of aquatic associated birds, various amphibians, numerous aquatic plants and seaweeds, and invertebrates including crustacea and molluscs

Non-native species are plant or animal species that are found outside of their natural past or present distribution (introduced species). The term ‘non-native species’ is the equivalent of ‘alien species’ as used by the Convention on Biological Diversity. Generally speaking It refers to species and subspecies introduced through human action, “hitchhiking”, or other means.
An invasive non-native species is any non-native animal or plant that has the ability or potential to spread to a degree that might cause damage to the environment, the economy, our health and the way we live, or reduce biodiversity.

At the time of writing there seems to be a disappointingly poor coverage of this story by the media with only the Guardian reporting on it in any depth.

It’s difficult to tell from the NNSS website which species are of most concern, so for this exercise I’ve chosen to use the species listed under the NNSS species alerts issued as part of the GB rapid response protocol. All these species have been found in the UK and are of obvious concern.

Water Primrose – Ludwigia grandiflora

An invasive non-native plant from South America which has become a serious pest in other countries, including France, where it smothers water bodies reducing the numbers of native species and potentially increasing the risk of flooding.

Ludwigia – Eponym, honouring Christian Gottlieb Ludwig (1709-1773); genus named by Carl Linnaeus
grandiflora – Latin, grandi-, grandis, large, great; -flora, the goddess of flowers; grandiflora, with large flowers

Quagga Mussel – Dreissena rostriformis bugensis

A highly invasive non-native freshwater mussel from the Ponto-Caspian region, very similar to Zebra Mussel. It can significantly alter whole ecosystems by filtering out large quantities of nutrients and is also a serious biofouling risk blocking pipes smothering boat hulls and other structures.

Dreissena bugensis (Andrusov, 1897)
Dreissena – Eponym, honouring M. Driessens, a pharmacist at Mazeyk, from whom Van Beneden, had received a consignment of live molluscs
bugensis – etymology unknown, -ensis, indicates name is a toponym

“Killer shrimps” – D. haemobaphes and D. villosus

Invasive non-native freshwater gammarid crustaceans that have spread from the Ponto-Caspian Region of Eastern Europe. They are both voracious predators that kill a range of native species, including young fish, and can significantly alter ecosystems.

Dikerogammarus villosus (Sowinsky, 1894)

Dikerogammarus, – Greek, Di-, di (δι), two; -kero-, keras, horn; -gammarus, kammaros (καμμαρος), lobster
villosus, Latin, hairy, shaggy, rough

Dikerogammarus haemobaphes (Eichwald, 1841)

(No image available)

Dikerogammarus, – Greek, Di-, di (δι), two; -kero-, keras, horn; -gammarus, kammaros (καμμαρος), lobster
haemobaphes, -Greek, haemo-, haima (αιμα), blood-red; -baphes (βαφη), a dipping in dye, dyeing, dye

Carpet Sea-squirt – Didemnum vexillum (Kott, 2002)

Thought to be originally from Japan, it has become a pest in other countries by smothering native species and interfering with fishing, aquaculture and other activities.  It has recently been found in some marinas in England and Wales and there are strong concerns that it will spread more widely.

Didemnum, Greek, Di-, di (δι), two; -demnum (δεμνιον), bedstead, mattress, bed, bedding;
vexillum, Latin, a military ensign, standard, banner, flag.

Sightings of any of these species should be reported through either the appropriate reporting page on the NNSS website or by email with a photograph and location details to:

All images courtesy of

Bowhead whale

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

Bowhead whale

29th May – A Bowhead whale was sighted off Carlingford Lough, Ireland. This is a rare sighting of an Arctic species, more than a thousand miles outside of its natural range and reportedly the first ever to be spotted in Irish waters; the whale was described as being around 20 foot long (just under 7 metres) so likely a juvenile.  A sighting had been previously reported of a Bowhead of a similar size off Cornwall two weeks ago on May 15th, possibly the same individual. For more details of the current sighting see the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) website.

Bow Head whale, Carlingford entrance 290516Image: IWDG

The Bowhead whale is the second largest species of whale after the Blue whale; generally measuring between 14 and 18 metres in length when fully grown (females usually a metre or so longer than males) and weigh from 75,000 to 100,000 kg. Calves have an average length at birth of 4.25 to 5.25 metres.

They have a large, robust, dark-colored body and a white chin/lower jaw. The common name of Bowhead derives from their bow-shaped mouth which features a strongly bowed lower jaw making a U-shape around the narrow upper jaw and is, incidentally, the largest mouth of any species.

Bow Head 2 Carlingford 290516 - Low ResImage: IWDG


Bowhead whales don’t appear to be social animals, typically traveling alone or in small pods of up to six. They are believed to be the longest lived mammal with an estimated lifespan of up to 200 years.

They are found only in Arctic and subarctic regions spending much of their lives in and near the pack ice, migrating to the high Arctic in summer, and retreating southward in winter with the advancing ice edge, and are rarely found below 45 degrees north latitude.

Balaena mysticetus Linnaeus, 1758 – Bowhead whale


Balaena – Latin, balaena, a whale.

mysticetus – Greek, μυστικητος, mysti, mustac (μυσταξ), moustache, upper lip; -cetus (κητος), whale.

A possible alternative etymology derives from the assumption that there has been a transmission or translation error in older editions of Aristotle’s Historia Animalium; whereas modern editions read ο μυς το κητος,the whale known as the mouse” or “the ‘mouse’, i.e. the whale so called’ (maybe an ironic reference to the animals’ great size), earlier editions mistakenly ran the words together as ο μυστικητος,the Mysticetus”. Ref. OED

ESF Top 10 New Species list 2016

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

Two species of fish, an Anglerfish, Lasiognathus dinema, and a Seadragon, Phyllopteryx dewysea, feature in this year’s ESF Top 10 New Species list.

The list, an annual event established in 2008, is compiled by ESF’s International Institute for Species Exploration and comprises the Top 10 species from among the thousands of new species named during the previous year, selected by an international committee of taxonomists and calls attention to the fact that new discoveries are being made even as species are going extinct faster than they are being identified.

The list is published around May 23 each year to coincide with the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy.

Lasiognathus dinema Pietsch & Sutton, 2015

dinemaImage: Theodore W. Pietsch, University of Washington

Discovered during a Natural Resource Damage Assessment conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. A small deep sea species of Wolftrap angler (1,000 to 1,500 metres, around 5cms in length) with a prominent esca. Different species of anglerfish can be distinguished visually by the details of a structure called an esca (Latin, food, bait) that projects over their heads like a fishing rod and is believed to act as a lure to attract prey. This organ is located at the tip of a highly modified, elongated dorsal ray, in some species the esca is home to symbiotic bacteria that are bioluminescent, producing light (a rare commodity in the depths of the ocean) and is presumed to aid in the attraction of prey.


Lasiognathus – Greek, Lasio-, lasios ασιος) , shaggy, wooly, hairy; -gnathus, gnathos (γναθος), jaw. Alluding to the huge number of long teeth of the upper jaw

dinema – Greek, di- (δι), two; -nema, nhma (νημα), that which is spun, thread, filament; referring to two thread-like prolongations arising from base of escal hooks.

Phyllopteryx dewysea Stiller, Wilson, & Rouse, 2015 – Ruby seadragon

ruby seadragon Image: Western Australian Museum

Only the third known species of seadragon, and the first to be discovered in 150 years, possibly because it lives in slightly deeper waters than its relatives. A relatively large species, around 24 cms in length, it has rarely been previously encountered; the coloration suggests it lives in deeper waters than other seadragons since red shading would be absorbed at depth, effectively serving as camouflage.


Phyllopteryx – Greek, Phyllo, phyhllon (φυλλον), leaf; -pteryx, pteruc (πτερυξ), wing, fin. Alluding to the small leaf-like appendages of the first named member of the genus, the Common or Weedy Seadragon.

dewysea – Latinized name, honouring, “… Mary ‘Dewy’ Lowe, for her love of the sea and her support of seadragon conservation and research, without which this new species would not have been discovered.” Of the Lowe Family Foundation.

Ref. A spectacular new species of seadragon (Syngnathidae) Josefin Stiller, Nerida G. Wilson, Greg W. Rouse. Royal Society Open Science 2015