Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fragile dragons

Last month a new seadragon has been described: Phyllopteryx dewysea, the red seadragon. Seadragons are related to seahorses and pipefish. Remarkable creatures with extreme fins. The entire body is camouflaged, resembling pieces of coral. The Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus eques, has by far the most outrageous fins and filaments. The Red Seadragon is known by three specimens only. Its distribution range therefor limited to the only two places the species has been caught. (The holotype was trawled east of the remote Recherche Archipelago in 51 m; additional specimens extend the distribution west to Perth in 72 m). Like its relatives the red sea dragon is considered endangered. 
The image shows a male carrying brood at its tail. Just like Pipefish, Seadragon males are taking care of the eggs until hatching. Compared to the only two species of Seadragons, the new species is easily distinguishable. The Leafy Seadragon has far more filaments and shows an overall coloration which is more greenish. The filaments resemble seaweeds. The second species, the common seadragon, Phyllopteryx taeniolatus, has more stripes and a dorsal fin positioned much more backward as in the red sea dragon (although it's hard to tell where the dorsal is...). The red sea dragon has the shortest filaments of all three species and shows a remarkable red coloration.

Read the first description online: Stiller, J., Wilson, N.G. & Rouse, G.W. (2015): "A spectacular new species of seadragon (Syngnathidae)." - Royal Society Open Science2: 140458.

Original painting, as pictured above, on 36x52 cm white paper. One of a kind, available for $ 79.95. 
Tees, Mugs and other cool fish stuff based on my blog entries are available at my webshop: QueerFish

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