NOAA Fisheries Zoologist Details New Fish Species  

Alert: new species! Emmelichthys papillatus, the papillated redbait, was discovered by NOAA Fisheries' National Systematics Laboratory's Dr. Katherine Bemis and colleagues. ZooKeys reported its discovery.  

Emmelichthyidae includes papillated redbait. This family, known as redbaits, rovers, or rubyfishes, has 18 species. Bright red, orange, and pink deepwater species live in warm, tropical waters.  

Bemis' team made this amazing discovery. How? We must first visit a Philippine seafood market to find out.  

Bemis and her colleagues collect fish specimens abroad as part of an interagency drive to develop a fish DNA "barcode" repository. Some are sold for food at foreign seafood markets.   

These new specimens are given preliminary species identifications in the field. They're then taken to the Smithsonian Institution and National Systematics Laboratory for DNA sequencing, data collection, and secondary species confirmation.  

Since 2021, Bemis and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History colleague Dr. Matthew Girard have evaluated thousands of samples.   

None have made a larger impression than two little pink fish from a Cebu seafood market.  

Girard discovered something exciting while collecting data from these species. Their genetic sequences did not match their initial species identification as golden redbaits or any other species in the genetic library.  

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