Technicolored creature — found in Brazil river — discovered as a new species. See it

In a river drainage along the eastern coast of Brazil, rapid flowing freshwater pours into the Atlantic Ocean.

Here, the rocks make the water turbulent, so few fish are able to navigate the current pulling toward the sea.

But in between the smooth stones, brightly colored fish with fleshy whiskers move throughout the water.

They are species of Microglanis, a family of catfish known more for their presence in aquariums and fish tanks than out in the wild.

Hoping to inventory the fish species that call the river drainage home, a group of researchers collected samples from the river on multiple expeditions between 2012 and 2019, according to a study published in the Journal of Fish Biology on April 22.

When they took a closer look at a few of the catfish, it didn’t look quite like the others.

It was a new species.

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The technicolored fish was similar in color to a known species, Microglanis cibelae, but the dark bands that wrapped around the body reached farther down to the fins on the bottom of the fish, according to the study.

The group of fish is sometimes called bumblebee catfish because of this striped coloration.

The new fish also had a “clear spot” at the base of the fish’s spine, the researchers said.

When the researchers looked at the build of the fish, they saw that the new species had a “depressed” body with “lower head and body depth,” shorter fins along the back and shorter barbels, the appendages that look like whiskers on the front of their face.

The DNA of the new fish confirmed their suspicions, and the new fish was named Microglanis lucenai, honoring ichthyologist Carlos Alberto Santos Lucena, who they credit with aiding in the “increasing knowledge” of neotropical fish, according to the study.

“Microglanis lucenair inhabits rapids, an unusual environment for Microglanis species,” the researchers said. “These rivers are characterized by a basaltic substrate composed of abundant rocks and pebbles, with strong current and crystal clear water.”

The flattened body shape and whiskers “seems to be adaptations to live among rocks in fast-flowing environments,” according to the study.

M. lucenair is a sympatric species, meaning it shares a common ancestor with another living species, and the two species evolved at the same time but in different directions, the researchers said. This explains why the new species wasn’t discovered until now, as it looks very similar to its sympatric species.

The new species was found in Santa Catarina, a state on the southeastern coast of Brazil.

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