Page last updated at 07:28 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Psychedelic fish 'is new species'

By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Jakarta

The fish known as Psychedelica
Psychedelica was discovered off Indonesia's Ambon island

A brightly-coloured fish which bounces along the seabed has been hailed as a new species by scientists - who have dubbed it "psychedelica".

Research published in the US scientific journal Copeia says the fish was spotted by scuba divers off the island of Ambon in eastern Indonesia.

It belongs to the frogfish family, but its looks are unique even among its peers, the journal reported.

The question with this new discovery is how it went unnoticed for so long.

The new psychedelica frogfish is completely covered in swirling concentric stripes - white and blue on a peach background - radiating out from its aqua-coloured eyes.

It has a broad flat face, thick fleshy cheeks and chin, and eyes that look forward like a human's.

The fish was spotted by divers off the coast of Ambon island last year.

The divers described it moving away from them in a series of short hops, its pelvic fins pushing it off the sea bed with each bounce.

"The overall impression" says the Copeia research paper, was of "an inflated rubber ball bouncing along the bottom".

The species was first discovered almost 20 years ago, but sat on a shelf - wrongly labelled and gathering dust - until this most recent find.

It came to light when the divers were unable to identify the fish from photographs circulated among their colleagues, and sent pictures to a frogfish expert at the University of Washington.

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