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Cirrhilabrus greeni, the new sunset fairy wrasse

By Leonard Ho - Posted Dec 15, 2017 09:00 AM
A new, vibrant red and yellow fairy wrasse is described from the eastern Timor Sea of Northern Australia. The new species may be a glimpse of evolution in action as it appears to be either a product of recent divergence or hybridization.
Cirrhilabrus greeni, the new sunset fairy wrasse

Cirrhilabrus greeni n. sp, male. Photo by M.P. Hammer

Interestingly, when the scientists sequenced the mtDNA-barcode marker COI of C. greeni, they found it identical to the seqeunces of C. rubripinnis and C. aff. tonozukai from the Philippines, but C. greeni is markedly different than the other two species (both pigmentation and the shape of their tails).  The authors of the Journal of Ocean Science Foundation paper suggest that this indicates "the new species has diverged recently and/or there is historic or episodic hybridization within the species complex."

Distribution  and  habitat:

The new species is currently known only from the eastern Timor Sea, approximately 300 km northwest of Darwin, Australia and 300 km southwest of the Tanimbar Islands of Indonesia. It was collected and observed in depths of about 18–40 m. The habitat consists of sloping rubble bottoms with scattered low outcrops of rock or coral and occasional large coral outcrops. It co-occurs with several
other members of the genus including C. hygroxerus and four species of undetermined status that are related to C. cyanopleura (Bleeker, 1851); C. exquisitus Smith, 1957; C. punctatus Randall & Kuiter, 1989; and C. temminckii Bleeker, 1853.

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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