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One clingfish, two clingfish: A new species, plus a second with venom

Acyrtus color plate

Texas A&M University photo courtesy Dr. Kevin Conway and Dr. Carole Baldwin, Smithsonian Institution

Kevin Conway, assistant professor and curator of fishes with Texas A&M’s department of wildlife and fisheries sciences at College Station, has published his research at Texas A&M University that documents a new species of clingfish — and a startling new discovery in a second well-documented clingfish. The paper, entitled “Cryptic Diversity and Venom Glands in Western Atlantic Clingfishes of the Genus Acyrtus (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae),” was published May 13 in the PLOS ONE online journal. PLOS ONE is the Public Library of Science’s peer reviewed, open-access scientific journal.

The scientific paper documents the study Conway and his team, including Carole Baldwin, his collaborator at the Smithsonian Institution, and Macaulay White, former Texas A&M undergraduate, have been working on for several years.

“We are excited about the study, because it resulted in not only the discovery of an undescribed species, but also the discovery of a unique venom gland in a group of fishes nobody knew were venomous,” Conway said. “New groups of venomous fishes are not discovered very often, in fact the last such discovery happened back in the 1960s. The shocking thing is that the fishes that possess the venom gland have been known to science for a long time, some for over 260 years, and have been pretty well studied.”