South African scientists have discovered a new genus and species of an attractively patterned electric ray off the east coast of South Africa and they have named it after a vacuum cleaner company.
The new electric ray, named Electrolux addisoni, is described in the latest issue of the journal Smithiana Bulletin by Leonard Compagno and Phillip Heemstra.
Electrolux addisoni is easily distinguished from other electric rays of the family Narkidae by its striking colour pattern consisting of a dark brown dorsal surface of the disc with numerous small pale yellow spots and a series of concentric black stripes.
Other distinguishing characters of the new genus include its prominent spiracular papillae, the unique morphologies of the nostrils, nasal curtain, mouth, jaws, chondrocranium, basibranchial skeleton, pectoral and pelvic girdles, and the presence of two dorsal fins.
The genus name raises eyebrows, and its origin is best explained in the authors' own words:
"The name alludes to the well-developed electrogenic properties of this ray (collectors and photographers have experienced the shocking personality of this bold, active and brightly patterned electric ray first-hand), the discovery of which sheds light (Latin, lux) on the rich and poorly-known fish diversity of the Western Indian Ocean.
And the vigorous sucking action displayed on the videotape of the feeding ray that was taken by Stephania and Peer Lamberti may rival a well-known electrical device used to suck the detritus from carpets, furniture, and other dust-gathering surfaces in modern homes...".
The species is named after Mark Addison, who collected the holotype.
Endemic to South Africa
Electrolux addisoni is endemic to the east coast of South Africa, and was first identified to the authors in 1984 by photographing divers.
It was subsequently sighted, photographed and even videographed by divers, but it was not until 2003 that the authors were finally able to obtain specimens for study.
Electrolux addisoni is also apparently the largest member of the Narkidae, reaching up to 515 mm total length.
For more information, see the paper: Compagno, LJV & PC Heemstra (2007) Electrolux addisoni, a new genus and species of electric ray from the east coast of South Africa (Rajiformes: Torpedinoidei: Narkidae), with a review of torpedinoid taxonomy. Smithian Bulletin 7, 15"49.