University Museum of Bergen

A New Deep-Sea Fish Species Discovered by Scientists at Bergen Museum

A hitherto unknown deep-sea fish species of the scaleless smooth-heads (Alepocephalidae) has now for the first time been described and published by scientists at Bergen Museum and Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Massachusetts, USA.

During the MAR-ECO cruise on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the summer of 2004, a specimen of the scaleless smooth-head fishes was caught at 2100 m depth. The researchers have compared it, both in terms of appearance and molecular studies (by DNA sequence), to other fishes of this group that are held in museum collections worldwide. It turns out at the specimen from the Atlantic Ocean has been unknown to science until now.
The description of the fish was recently published in the journal Zootaxa.

Related to herrings

Smooth-heads (Alepocephalidae) is a fish family that lives in the deep seas and is closely related to clupeids. Contrary to the glossy shine of the clupeids, the smooth-heads are blue-black to dark brown and lack scales on the head. Some of them are completely scaleless.
The lifestyle of the smooth-heads has been little investigated. A little less than 100 species are known and some of them can be found in abundance close to the seabed in deep oceans. They are not an important commercial fishery resource.

One of the authors of the article from BM, Research Fellow Jan Yde Poulsen, has relatively recently given an account of the smooth-heads’ ancestral relations through mitogenome sequences. A similar project forms the basis of his PhD work, but is concentrated on lantern fishes which are a species-rich group of pelagic fishes that plays a very important ecological role.