'Pancake' stingrays found in Amazon
Iquitos, Peru (UPI) Mar 14, 2011
Scientists say they have discovered two new species of freshwater stingrays in the Amazon rain forest and dubbed them "pancake" rays.
Called that because of their almost perfectly round, flat shape, the examples belong to the first new stingray genus found in the Amazon area in more than 20 years, Nathan Lovejoy, a biologist at the University of Toronto, and Marcelo Rodrigues de Carvalho of the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil, said.
The researchers' work in the upper Amazon confirmed the new genus, Heliotrygon, and the two new species, Heliotrygon gomesi and Heliotrygon rosai, LiveScience.com reported Monday.
Besides their pancake-like appearance, both rays are big, have slits on their bellies and sport a tiny spine on their tails.
Most of the specimens came from the Rio Nanay, near Iquitos, Peru. The discovery brings the total number of neotropical stingray genera -- from an area that also includes tropical Mexico, the West Indies and Central America -- to four.
"The most important thing this discovery tells us is that there are quite likely to be other large fishes in the Amazon yet to be discovered and described," Lovejoy said. "Our understanding of the biodiversity of this region is not complete by any stretch of the imagination."
The discovery was reported in the journal Zootaxa.
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