The discovery of new animal species is unusual but certainly not earth-shatteringly rare.
Periodically, scientists will announce that a new variety of lemur has been found in Madagascar or a previously unknown spider has been located in a distant part of Sri Lanka or an unclassified frog has been uncovered in remote India.
Less common is finding a new species in a populated, scientifically advanced region such as the United States.
However, scientists in Florida last week announced that they came across a new species of black bass in the southeastern United States during a genetic study of fish in 2007, according to Field & Stream.
Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission christened the species, found in the Chipola River, “Choctaw bass.”
The Chipola is a small tributary of the Apalachicola River that runs north-south along the middle of the Florida Panhandle.
Choctaw bass possess a DNA profile unlike that of any other species, scientists announced.
“We didn’t set out to find a new species,” said Mike Tringali, who heads the genetics laboratory at the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “It found us.”
Upon confirming the new species, scientists looked through the DNA profiles of bass caught in nearby rivers to determine the species’ range.
“We chose the name ‘Choctaw bass’ because the species’ range overlaps the historic range of the Choctaw Indians,” said Tringali. “As for our recommended scientific name, Micropterus haiaka, ‘haiaka’ is a Choctaw word that means ‘revealed.’”
Given the fish’s appearance, it’s not surprising that it has taken so long to differentiate the Choctaw bass from the spotted bass. The former is so similar to the latter that the physical differences between the two are almost impossible to tell with the naked eye, according to RedOrbit.
The Choctaw bass isn’t the only new fish species to have been discovered this year. New varieties of fish have been found in central Africa and western Turkey, as well.
“Earth’s massive bodies of water, both fresh and marine, remain the most unexplored and little understood ecosystems on the planet, and more discoveries of the creatures that inhabit these places are still to come,” RedOrbit added.