Deep Sea Skates – New Species Discovered!

According to a scientific paper published on 13th July 2016 – a new species of deep-water legskate was recently described by scientists Weigmann and Stehmann. When scientists discover a new type of animal it is called ‘describing’ because they have to put together a description of the animal that allows other scientists to be able to tell the new animal apart from similar species.

Female specimen in dorsal (top) and ventral (underside) views taken straight after being caught

Two deep-water legskates were caught on the remote Saya de Malha Bank in the central western Indian Ocean and given the name Sinobatis brevicauda (brevicauda means ‘short tail’ in latin). Part of the Smooth Skate family, the new species is easily distinguished by the short tail. It is the only Sinobatis species described from the western Indian Ocean and is different to the other legskates in this area by its large size and light coloration.

sharktrooth legskate
Another type of legskate – see the longer pelvic fins at the base of the tail

Other physical differences to its closest relatives include a longer body, longer head, longer snout and a different number of vertebrae (bones in the spine). The female specimen pictured at the top was recorded at 56cm total length.

Legskates get the name because the pelvic fins are enlarged and are probably used to ‘walk’ along the sea bottom.

The bottom of the ocean is the largest surface on the planet and it remains largely untouched. What else do you think could be waiting down there to be discovered?


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