NZ scientists discover a new sunfish species weighting more than a ton

Most estimates say that we still have between 4 and 9 million living species to discover on Earth. Many are very small, but huge species are still identified regularly. For example this sunfish species (in picture above) that was just officially discovered by a team of scientists in New Zealand last week. It was named Mola tecta, the hoodwinker sunfish.

The NZ newspaper Sunday Morning interviewed the scientists and explains that “researchers from Te Papa, the University of Otago, Hiroshima University and the University of Tokyo, who spent four years studying the Indo-Pacific region, uncovered the new species. It was found to be genetically different from other sunfish: the ocean sunfish and the short sunfish. Te Papa fish collection manager Andrew Stewart said the discovery showed new things could be found in quite obvious places.”

The team hopes that the discovery will allow scientists and fisheries to study and protect the new species. Like the rest of the sunfish family, it is expected the new species with weight around 1000 kg, with bigger specimen maybe reaching 2 metric tons.

For the philosophical angle of this discovery, we note that Paul Stewart stated: “Most new things that we find are small, or they live in dark holes at the back of reefs. Here’s something that lives right in front of us, and we just had [it] literally washing up on the beach in good numbers, and yet we hadn’t recognised it.”

Via: Radio New Zealand

(Photo credit: supplied to RNZ)

The team who made the discovery:

Left to right: Marianne Nyegaard (Murdoch University, Australia); Etsuro Sawai (Hiroshima University) and Andrew Stewart (Te Papa) examine a new sunfish specimen, which will be permanently housed in the National Fish Collection at Te Papa. (Photo credit : supplied to RNZ)

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