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Acanthurus albimento, a new tang species

By Leonard Ho - Posted Feb 17, 2017 09:00 AM
While scientists have described a lot of new reef fish recently, they're mostly small or cryptic species. Discovering a new, big tang species is exciting news indeed! Acanthurus albimento is a new tang from the Philippines and is part of the tang clade that includes the Dussumieri tangs.
Acanthurus albimento, a new tang species

Acanthurus albimento, fresh holotype, PNM 15199, 252.4 mm SL, northeast Luzon, Philippines (J.T. Williams).

The three most distinguishing features of A.albimento are its "distinctive white chin, iridescent blue markings on the face and pectoral fin, and rust-orange line at the base of the dorsal fin."

Since the discovery is based on a few fish-market specimens, little is known about the new species' natural locality, habitat, and behavior.  It is rare and surprising to find a tang with such limited distribution since most Acanthurids have wide natural ranges, especially a tang that is found among the interconnected reefs of the Coral Triangle.

Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation Abstract:

Acanthurus albimento is described as a new surgeonfish from northeastern Luzon from six specimens collected during extensive fish-market surveys in the Philippines. The new species is characterized by a distinctive white band below the lower jaw; many irregular, wavy, thin, blue lines on the head; a brown-orange pectoral fin with a bluish tinge on the outer membrane of the rays and a dark band on the posterior margin; a narrow rust-orange stripe along the base of the dorsal fin; and a large blackish caudal spine and sheath with the socket broadly edged in black. An analysis using the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI), supported by an independent multi-locus analysis, suggests phylogenetic affinities with an Acanthurus clade that includes A. auranticavus, A. bariene, A. blochii, A. dussumieri, A. gahhm, A. leucocheilus, A. maculiceps, A. mata, A. nigricauda, and A. xanthopterus; a clade that shares a suite of color characteristics. Based on the sampling history in the region, the new species may be a limited-range endemic in the westernmost Pacific Ocean, which is unusual for members of this genus. This raises potential questions about drivers of dispersal and long-held assumptions about zoogeographic patterns along the Kuroshio Current.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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