New blenny from the Red Sea

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A new species of blenny, Entomacrodus solus, has recently been described from the Red Sea. It is the only species of the circumtropical genus Entomacrodus known from the Red Sea, and its description brings the number of recognised species in the genus to 27.

The "new" fish has, however, been known to science since at least 1975, when 35 specimens were collected by well-known marine ichthyologist Jack Randall at Ras Mohammed at the southern end of the Gulf of Aqaba, and deposited in two museum collections.

Unfortunately one of these sets of specimens was later incorrectly identified as a known species, Entomacrodus epalzeocheilos, a member of the E. striatus species group, and the fish appears as such in the most recent checklist of the fishes of the Red Sea (Goren & Dor 1994).

Recent re-examination has shown that it in fact belongs to the E. nigricans group, but not to any of the 10 previously known species in that group.  Hence its description as a new species.  

The specific name is from the Latin solus meaning alone, and refers to its being the only Entomacrodus species found in the Red Sea and to its its geographic isolation from other members of the genus. The popular name Lonely Blenny has been suggested. 

Remarkably the authors state that the scientific name, a Latin adjective, is to be treated as a noun in apposition (this means that if the species is subsequently re-assigned to a genus with a different gender, the name will remain the same instead of changing its ending).

At present this little fish (the largest specimen examined measures 4.6cm/1.25 in is known only from the type locality at  Ras Mohammed, where it was collected in very shallow water (maximum 20cm/8in) on rocky shoreline at the end of a mangrove channel. 

It is surmised that it probably also occurs in similar habitats elsewhere around the Red Sea.

Because Entomacrodus live in very shallow water on rocky shores and often in estuaries, they are not usually seen by snorkelers and divers, and they are also difficult for scientists to collect unless rotenone is used.  

For further information see:  Goren, M. & Dor, M. (1994) An updated checklist of the fishes of the Red Sea.  Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem;  Williams, J. T. & S. V. Bogorodsky (2010) Entomacrodus solus, a new species of blenny (Perciformes, Blenniidae) from the Red Sea.  Zootaxa 2475: 64–68.