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Top 10 - 2009

Finding Nemo's True Blue Cousin

Underwater photo by John Earle; specimen photo by Richard Pyle

Name: Chromis abyssus

Common Name: Deep Blue Chromis

Family: Pomacentridae

How it made the Top 10: The publication in which this new species and four others were described heralded a new era in the taxonomy of animal species. It represented the first taxonomic act of 2008, and the first act registered in the newly launched taxonomic database Zoobank. As a result, the original description was the most downloaded article in Zootaxa's history during its first month, and was among the top ten downloaded articles for 11 months in 2008. The discovery of the new species also highlights how little we know of deep-reef biodiversity.

Reference: Pyle, R.L., J.L. Earle & B.D. Greene. 2008. Five new species of the damselfish genus Chromis (Perciformes: Labroidei: Pomacentridae) from deep coral reefs in the tropical western Pacific. Zootaxa 1671: 3-31.

Type material: "Holotype. BPBM 40861 (81.6 mm SL), Belau (Palau) Islands; off Ngemelis Island; below and slightly N of Blue Holes caverns (7°8'16.49"N, 134°13'18.5"E): above large rock outcrop, 110 m, hand net, R.L. Pyle, 27 April 2007 [PCMB 3113]. Paratypes. BMNH 2007.10.31.1 (50.2 mm SL) [PCMB 3103]. BPBM 40855 (3; 37.6–98.0 mm SL) [PCMB 3100, 3102]. CAS 225755 (64.1 mm SL) [PCMB 3105]. MNHN 2007.1922 (63.7 mm SL) [PCMB 3104]. USNM 391136 (2; 44.4–90.2 mm SL) [PCMB 3101]. WAM P.32898-001 (64.5 mm SL) [PCMB 3106]. All from same locality as holotype: sand and rubble slope with scattered rock outcroppings, 107–116 m, quinaldine and hand net, R.L. Pyle and B.D. Greene, 25 April 2007."

Type locality: Off the coast of Ngemelis Island, Belau (Palau) Islands.

Etymology: "Named abyssus, a Latinized form of the Greek noun abyssos (meaning 'abyss'), to honor the documentary film Pacific Abyss, produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which funded the expedition on which the type specimens were collected. The vernacular name 'Deep Blue Chromis', a reference to both the life color of this species and the relatively (within the context of the genus) deep-dwelling habits, is suggested instead of the more literally translated 'Abyss Chromis', so as not to imply that the species inhabits depths commonly defined as 'abyssal.'"

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