Writer: Cathy Keen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: George Burgess, (352) 392-1721,
PHOTO AVAILABLE GAINESVILLE
Scientists have identified a new species of bass, making the finned fighter likely the last game fish in North America to get a scientific name, says a University of Florida researcher.
"It's the end of an era in the sense that all the other bass and trout were discovered long ago, mostly in the 1700s and 1800s," said George Burgess, a UF ichthyologist who worked to establish the fish as a separate species. "From now on, scientists likely will describe only the smaller, cryptic species that have avoided detection despite our best efforts." Burgess and James D. Williams, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey Laboratory in Gainesville, describe the new species of bass, called Micropterus cataractae and found in rivers in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, in the Oct. 8 edition of the journal "The Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History."
The species getting a scientific name has actually been known by anglers for the last 50 years as the shoal bass because it thrives in the shoals of rivers, Burgess said. But no one was certain the fish was different from its closest relative, the spotted bass until Williams and Burgess noted key differences including coloration, absence of teeth on the tongue and number of rows of scales. "Our research should put to rest any questions about whether it's a valid species or merely a variant of one of the other species," Burgess said. "It's pretty much a slam dunk as far as we're concerned, and the scientific community already is aware of the fish."
As with all wildlife, the first species to be described are the most prominent, generally leaving only small critters and insects to be named, he said.
"When the first biologists trekked across America, expeditiously putting their hooks and nets in the water for the f
Contact: George Burgess
University of Florida