You would think that all the species of sunfish—a massive creature which grows to about nine-feet in length and two-tons in weight—would have been found decades ago. But as Hannah Lang reports for National Geographic, that isn’t the case. After a four-year quest, a team of researchers in Australia has finally confirmed the existance of a new species of the giant fish.
As Murdoch University researcher Marianne Nyegaard writes for The Conversation, she began analyzing DNA samples of sunfish for her PhD dissertation in 2013. But she found something strange: While there were three recognized sunfish species in the world, the skin samples she was examining suggeted that there were four. Nyegaard and her colleagues dubbed the mystery sunfish Mola tecta, from the Latin word tectus, meaning hidden. In English they call it the hoodwinker sunfish since it had been “hiding in plain site for centuries.”
But Nyegaard wanted more than DNA. She wanted images and perhaps even a specimen.
Photo: Tom Bridge-Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)