New Mandarin shark discovered

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Scientists have named a new species of Mandarin shark from south eastern Australia.

William White, Peter Last and John Stevens of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research named the new species as Cirrhigaleus australis in a paper in the latest issue of the journal Zootaxa.

Cirrhigaleus australis is a member of the Mandarin dogfish group of squalid sharks which typically reach lengths of just a metre or so.

The new species was previously believed to be an Australian population of the Mandarin dogfish, Cirrhigaleus barbifer.

However, closer analysis of the fish has shown that the Australian Cirrhigaleus is a completely different species to barbifer, which is more common around Indonesia and the western North Pacific.

Cirrhigaleus australisThe authors said that the two species differ both morphologically and in the structure of the CO1 gene: "Cirrhigaleus australis has a smaller eye, shorter dorsal-caudal space, and smaller pectoral fins and spines.

These species are clearly separable from the only other congener, C. asper, and all other members of the family Squalidae, by the possession of a greatly produced barbel on their anterior nasal flap."

The new species is believed to occur in temperate waters off eastern Australia and its range may extend as far as New Zealand.

The characteristic long nasal lobes, or barbels, on Cirrhigaleus give the fishes their common name of Mandarin sharks.

They are found at depths from 146-640m and reach a length of around 1.25m.

For more information see the paper: White WT, Last PR and JD Stevens (2007) - Cirrhigaleus australis n. sp., a new Mandarin dogfish (Squaliformes: Squalidae) from the south-west Pacific. Zootaxa, 1560: 19-30 (2007).