Friday, August 7, 2015

Two new amphipods: Paracallisoma idioxenos and Haptocallisoma lemarete

Amphipods are incredibly diverse and adaptable; there are currently around 10, 000 species known to science. They live in all marine environments, from shallow waters to the ocean's deepest trenches, on land and in fresh water.

These new 3 mm long scavenging amphipods, live in depths of up to 4500 metres in the North Atlantic Ocean. The new species were first discovered by researchers off the coast of south-west Ireland, which is the nearest deep water to the UK. The animals act in swarms to strip the carcasses of dead marine animals, including whales, fish and seabirds. In order to catch these new species, the colleagues put mackerel bait in a trap and let it descend into the deep waters. When the traps were retrieved they contained up to 40,000 individuals. Here is a video showing amphipods eating a pig carcass, an experiment ran by the VENUS Coastal Network here in Canada:

The new amphipod species have been named in honour of the late, great taxonomist, Roger Bamber, who passed away in February this year. I gave the species name 'lemarete' to one of the amphipods because it translates from Greek to 'Bold and Excellent', which is the motto on Roger Bamber's coat of arms. I chose this name because it is an accurate description of Roger, as well as being a little cryptic. Roger always put a lot of thought into the names he gave species, such as the tanaid species he named after a many-legged creature in Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

For the experts: The genus Paracallisoma (Crustacea: Amphipoda) is revised and the type species, Paracallisoma alberti is redescribed based on holotype material supplemented with new material from the region of the type locality. This revision results in the establishment of two new genera, Pseudocallisoma gen. nov. and Haptocallisoma gen. nov., and the description of a new species of Haptocallisoma and a new species of Paracallisoma from the North Atlantic Ocean. An account of all known species within the three genera is given and updated keys to the genera and species are provided.

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