Pancake Batfish Halieutichthys intermedius
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Pancake Batfish (Halieutichthys intermedius)

May 1, 2012
A pancake batfish (Halieutichthys intermedius), one of two, newly described species that live in water completely encompassed by the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The species was described by John Sparks, curator of ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History, and colleagues in the Journal of Fish Biology. Pancake batfish are members of the Ogcocephalidae family, flat, bottom-dwelling fish that often live in deep, perpetually dark waters. Their stout, arm-like fins allow them to "walk" along the substrate and their enormous heads and mouths, that can thrust forward, give them an advantage in capturing prey. When walking, their movements--described as grotesque--resemble a walking bat, hence the name. H. intermedius has a geographic distribution that mirrors the current range of the Gulf oil spill and does not have a known population outside of the Gulf of Mexico. Sparks says these discoveries underscore the potential loss of undocumented biodiversity that a disaster on the scale of the Deep Water Horizon spill may portend. [Research supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.] (Date of Image: 2010) Credit: Ho, Chakrabarty and Sparks (2010)

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