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Seadragon: Ruby Red with Pink Stripes

ESF Top 10 New Species of 2016

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  • Phyllopteryx dewysea: Skeleton of the ruby seadragon visualized using microcomputed tomography
    Image credit: Josefin Stiller, Nerida Wilson and Greg Rouse

  • Phyllopteryx dewysea: Skeleton of the ruby seadragon visualized using microcomputed tomography
    Image credit: Josefin Stiller, Nerida Wilson and Greg Rouse

About the Seadragon

Name: Phyllopteryx dewysea

Location: Australia

How it made the Top 10: Seadragons are related to seahorses and are a unique combination of beautiful and bizarre. This new kind of marine fish, 240 mm (nearly 10 inches) in length, is a striking shade of ruby red with pink vertical bars and light markings on its snout. Only the third known species of seadragon, it is found in slightly deeper and more offshore waters than the related common or leafy seadragons. The discovery was made off the coast of Western Australia. Aside from its spectacular appearance, it is a reminder of what we have yet to discover about marine species diversity. If ruby red dragons nearly a foot long in shallow waters have escaped our attention, what else do we not yet know?

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Syngnathiformes

Family: Syngnathidae

Size: About 240 mm (nearly 10 inches)

Etymology: Named to honor Mary "Dewy" Lowe for her love of, and commitment to, the study and conservation of seadragons.

Type locality: Australia, Western Australia, Recherche Archipelago east of Middle Island, trawled at 51 m

Holotype: Western Australian Museum, Perth

More information: Josefin Stiller, Nerida G. Wilson, and Greg W. Rouse. 2015. A spectacular new species of seadragon (Syngnathidae). Royal Society Open Science 2: 140458

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