Meet Ruby, a Red Sea Dragon. They Can Disguise Themselves To Look Like seaweeds to Escape Predators

It’s not just about polishing museum collections, a new discovery surprised researchers from the Scripps of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego when new species of the seadragon was found off the Australian coast.

This new find had contributed to a new record in understanding that this new seadragon is the only third species of the creatures that was ever found. The two related species namely the leafy seadragons and common seadragons are identified by its colors. One is even nicknamed the ruby seadragon since it has a brilliant red color.

Scientists have been analyzing tissue samples supplied by different museums with the photographs of the ruby seadragon taken in the wild in 2007. At the same time a third species of the creature was found whose official name is Phyllopteryx dewysea .

“We’re now in a golden age of taxonomy and these powerful DNA tools are making it possible for more new species than ever to be discovered,” stated Greg Rouse the curator of the Scripps Bentic Invertebrate Collection, “That such large charismatic marine species are still being found is evidence that there is still much to be done.”

A graduate student of Scripps had initially discovered the first specimen of the ruby dragon. When she had finally determined the name of new species she used CT (computer tomography) scans to come up with simulated sections of the seadragon’s body. A computer modeled a 3-D version of the seadragon revealing that the skeletal system of the seadragon is different from the other two.

The second sample of the ruby seadragon in the museum collection was discovered by a Marine biologist of the Western Museum, Nerida Wilson. That specimen was never determined for more than a hundred years. Wilson also discovered two other specimens at the Australian National Fish Collection. The mentioned scientists are convinced that more species will yet be discovered and that the new discovery is just the beginning, they want to emphasize the importance of ocean discovery.

“It has been 150 years since the last seadragon was described and all this time we thought that there were only two species,” says Wilson. “Suddenly, there is a third species! If we can overlook such a charismatic new species for so long, we definitely have many more exciting discoveries awaiting us in the oceans.”

Seadragons which are also related to seahorses could only be found on the areas off the coast of southern and western Australia. The leaf seadragon is named from its green leaf-like outgrowth that extend from its body. This would help disguise the creatures from predators confusing it as a seaweed. The common seadragon usually have yellow markings still having the same leaf-like image. Though the red seadragon looks a lot different. Scientists think that it actually lives in deeper waters than the other two species.




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