A fish previously unknown to science has been discovered – on Australians’ plates.
People in southeastern Australia had apparently been happily catching and eating a reportedly tasty type of grouper, without realising the somewhat unremarkable fish had not been officially documented.
The discovery was only made when Queensland Museum fish expert Jeff Johnson was contacted by a fisherman who had sent him a photo of a grouper, also known in Australia as a “rockcod”, which he had never seen before.
When Mr Johnson asked for the fisherman to send him the sample to examine, he was told the fish had already been sent to market.
So Mr Johnson decided to undertake his own detective work, and eventually he found five of the large fish for sale at a market in Brisbane’s North Lakes.
“As soon as I saw them, I thought they were probably a new species, so I purchased all five and began the hard work of formally proving they were a new species,” Mr Johnson said.
“Queensland Museum geneticist Dr Jessica Worthington Wilmer ran some tests in Queensland Museum’s molecular lab and after comparing them with other specimens in various museum collections, had enough evidence to prove it was a new species.”
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