August 27, 2012
Freshly-collected specimens of Phallostethus cuulong. Photographed and retouched by L.X. Tran and K. Shibukawa, respectively.
The species, dubbed Phallostethus cuulong, is the 22nd known member of the Phallostethidae family, a group of tiny, otherwise non-descript fish characterized by the presence of copulatory organs just under their throat. The authors explain:
Male phallostethids have a unique complex copulatory organ, termed the priapium, under the throat (thus the fishes of this family are commonly called "priapiumfish"). The priapium is a bilaterally asymmetric organ for holding or clasping onto females and fertilizing their eggs internally; following internal fertilization, phallostethid females do not give birth to live young, but instead lay fertilized eggs.
Head and anterior part of body of Phallostethus cuulong. A) lateral view of left side of head and body of male; B) lateral view of right side of head and body of male; C) lateral view of head and body of female; D) ventral view of head and body of female. Photographed and retouched by L.X. Tran and K. Shibukawa, respectively.
Lynne Parenti, curator of fishes at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., explained the fish's mating behavior to National Geographic News: "As with all Phallostethus—'penis chest' in Greek—species, the male uses its bony "priapium" to clasp a female while he inserts sperm into her urogenital opening, also located on the head." Phallostethidae fish mate head-to-head, which is apparently "a very efficient way to do it," according to the researcher.
The fish discovery comes less than a month after a biologist in the Amazon revealed a little know species of caecilian — a legless amphibian — that was shockingly phallic in shape.
CITATION: KOICHI SHIBUKAWA, DINH DAC TRAN, and LOI XUAN TRAN. Phallostethus cuulong, a new species of priapiumfish (Actinopterygii: Atheriniformes: Phallostethidae) from the Vietnamese Mekong. Zootaxa 3363 published: 3 Jul. 2012
Scientists discover beautiful new insect species after stumbling upon photos on Flickr
(08/09/2012) Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of lacewing insect after stumbling upon a series of photos posted on Flickr®, according to a paper published in the journal ZooKeys.
'Penis snake' discovered in Brazil is actually a rare species of amphibian
(08/02/2012) A creature discovered by engineers building a dam in the Amazon is a type of caecilian, a limbless amphibian that resembles an earthworm or as some are noting, part of the male anatomy.