Young experts give 'little tiger' its stripes
A team of junior ichthyologists has determined the most appropriate taxonomy for a new species of reef fish.
Primary school children have decided the proper title for a newly-discovered small, stripy specimen from the Red Sea, after being given naming rights by Sydney’s Macleay Museum natural history curator, Dr Tony Gill.
Young minds threw out dozens of possibilities in their search for name, including kofta, bongo, candy cane and Pippy Longstockings.
In the end it was decided the fish should be called ‘little tiger’.
Dr Gill and colleagues have formally named the new species Gymnoxenisthmus tigrellus in the journal Zootaxa.
Gymnoxenisthmus tigrellus is from the gobioid fish family Xenisthmidae.
Dr Gill has named half of the 14 xenisthmid species discovered so far, along with about a third of the 150 known species in another reef-fish family, Pseudochromidae.
“This indicates how recently many of these reef fish have been discovered,” says Dr Gill.
Efforts are also being made to understand the distribution and abundance of each species, but as hundreds are discovered every year the full scope remains limited.
“Without knowing the populations of most reef species we don't know how much human activity is impacting on them,” he said.
Dr Gill hopes to involve school children in the naming of future species during school holiday programs held at the Macleay Museum, as a way of introducing children to the work of a museum scientist.