Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Researchers Discover World's Smallest Fish In Sumatra

Scientists have discovered the smallest known fish on record in the peat swamps of the Indonesian island of Sumatra - in peat swamp where the water color resembles that of strong tea! Scientists had thought that little if anything could survive in such acidic peat swamps water but have been astonished to discover several species of small fish including the latest specimen, named Paedocypris progenetica. A Swiss biologist, Maurice Kottelat, and Tan Heok Hui from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research in Singapore, discovered the fish by sieving the water of the Sumatran swamps with a fine-mesh fishing net. They sent specimens of the fish to the Natural History Museum in London where Ralf Britz, a zoologist and fish expert, identified it as a species new to science. Dr. Britz said that it was a member of the carp family.

The team said that the "tiny and bizarre" fish is also the smallest known freshwater vertebrate. Individuals of the Paedocypris genus can be just 7.9mm long at maturity, as reported by the scientists in a journal published by the UK's Royal Society. Females grow no bigger than 7.9mm (0.31in) and the male measures up to 10.3mm. The males were distinguished by having a pair of large pelvic fins which were manipulated by well-developed muscles. "This is one of the strangest fish that I've seen in my whole career. It's tiny, it lives in acid and it has these bizarre grasping fins," Dr Britz said. Adult Paedocypris fish are transparent and resemble juvenile larval fish despite being sexually mature, with males sporting the well-endowed pelvic fins.

To remain small the fish have abandoned many of the adulthood characteristics – which is hinted in their name Paedocypris progenetica. For instance, their brain lacks bony protection and the females have room to carry just a few eggs. The males have a little clasp underneath that might help them fertilize eggs individually.

Being so small, the fish can live through even extreme drought, by seeking refuge in the last puddles of the swamp; but they are now threatened by humans - because widespread forest destruction, drainage of the peat swamps for palm oil plantations and persistent fires are destroying their habitat. Paedocypris may have been discovered just in time - but many of their miniature relatives may already have become extinct.

Related stories:

Scientists find 'smallest fish'

By Roland Pease (BBC science correspondent)

Scientists find world's tiniest vertebrate: it's a real tiddler

By Mark Henderson,,25689-2008448,00.html

Scientists Discover World's Smallest Fish In Sumatra

by Axxel, January 25th 2006


Pictures of the tiny fish:


No comments:

Post a Comment