By: Phil | 11-27-2017 | News
Photo credit: Times Free Press

TVA Biologist and Yale Researcher Discover New Fish Species in Tennessee

I've always said, you can be sleeping in a yurt next to a yakherder in Mongolia and if they ask you "where are you from" all you have to say is "Tennessee, where Jack Daniels and Elvis are from" and there will be instant recognition. Well, turns out Tennessee may have a new claim to fame apart from the King of Rock and Roll and the Emperor of oak barrel aged whiskey. A Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) biologist and Yale professor seems to have discovered a new fish that is found only in Tennessee.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">At noon yesterday, the guy who wrote the story on the freshly discovered fish species thought the new Tennessee Logperch would be the talk of Knoxville on Monday morning <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Joe Walljasper (@JoeWalljasper) <a href="">November 27, 2017</a></blockquote>

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The fish itself is a type of darter that only grows to about 6 inches long. It was the flattened splotches on its flanks that clued TVA aquatic biologist Jeff Simmons and Yale professor Tom Near to realize the find they had on their hand. Simmons says that the trick to identifying a new fish species involves cataloging small differences like these.

<blockquote>“With new techniques in molecular study, we are starting to see a lot more diversity than we thought,” Simmons said. “Once you investigate and start getting enough data and using DNA testing, you start seeing that there are a lot of differences in fish. I think there is still a wide-open realm of discovery out there.”</blockquote>

Simmons first noted the Tennessee Logperch while studying the Blotchside Logperch, a rare darter fish. Simmons and Near had worked together on previous scientific research. Carefully examining specimens, charting morphological data, collecting genetic data and snorkeling led to the current discovery. It was while snorkeling and studying Blotchside logperchs that the Tennessee logperch was discovered. The scientists say they knew fairly early on that they had a new species on their hands.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This should work, <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Thomas Near (@TJNear) <a href="">November 26, 2017</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote>“These fish can disappear, and when they are gone, you will never learn anything new about them,” he said. “It is a real privilege to learn all about these animals. When we start polluting the water, we will lose species like this and ultimately it will come back to affect us. Once you affect one thing, you’re going to start affecting others until it affects us.”</blockquote>

The scientists don't think this is the last new species they will discover out of Tennessee.


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