Pseudanthias tequila, The Cave Anthias Finally Has A Name!

by | Oct 29, 2017 | Fish, Science | 0 comments

Cave Anthias (Pseudanthias tequila), from Saipan. Deepwater Halimeda beds might be a preferred niche for this species. Credit: N. Tsuji

Back in March, I wrote at length about an undescribed species of anthias from the Mariana Arc which boasts some top notch colors. The Cave Anthias, though still uncollected for the aquarium trade, has been known to Japanese divers for at least the past two decades, but what it lacked until now was some proper scientific nomenclature. Now, at long last, thanks to what I can only assume is an overly soused taxonomist, it has one—Pseudanthias tequila.

As authors Anthony Gill, Yi-Kai Tea and Hiroshi Senou so eloquently put it, “The specific epithet refers to the alcoholic beverage tequila sunrise, alluding to the vibrant life colours of the males of the species.” And, no doubt a significant amount of alcohol helped to fuel this species description—would a sober taxonomist look at this anthias and see a mixed tropical drink? Personally, I like my etymologies with a playful dash of substance abuse.

Aside from the spiffy new name, there’s not a whole lot of new information to report on. The confirmed distribution is so far limited to the Ogasawara and Mariana Islands, though it could reasonably be expected to occur in a few other neighboring areas. It’s closest relatives are Randall’s Anthias (et al.) and, a bit further back, Pseudanthias leucozonus (which is the same as P. mica, right?).

Interestingly, the holotype specimen was collected way back in 1997, after which it proceeded to collect dust for more than twenty years before finally being scientifically described. Taxonomy can be a slow and painful process sometimes, but a liberal dose of booze apparently helps.

  • Joe Rowlett

    Joe is classically trained in the zoological arts and sciences, with a particular focus on the esoterica of invertebrate taxonomy and evolution. He’s written for several aquarium publications and for many years lorded over the marinelife at Chicago’s venerable Old Town Aquarium. He currently studies prairie insect ecology at the Field Museum of Natural History and fish phylogenetics at the University of Chicago.


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