A new species of fish has been discovered in the Central African nation of Gabon, and it’s one unique character with an enlarged “Jay Leno” chin and the ability to communicate through electric pulses. In a recent study, ichthyologist John Sullivan detailed his discovery in which he found the four-inch brown fish in one of his traps and immediately knew it was unlike anything he’d studied before. The new species, dubbed Cryptomyrus ogoouensis, isn’t the only electric fish in Africa’s waters, but it is the first found that gives off its particular electric frequency.

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Unlike an electric eel, the pulses Crytomyrus fish give off are nearly undetectable to humans; the only way to feel the weak pulses of electricity is to grab one of the largest species by the tail. Even then, you’d only feel a slight tingle. However, that weak electric field these fish generate is crucial to their survival. It allows them to detect prey in dark waters and even communicate with others of their species using pulses of electricity. Cryptomyrus ogoouensis can detect slight changes in the electrical field nearby, allowing it to sense nearby insect larva for its next meal. The fish can even modify the speed of its own electric pulses to share information with other fish, telegraphing its mood and sex, which helps the fish find mates.

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This is the second species of Cryptomyrus to be discovered in recent years — in 2001 and 2012, scientists identified similar specimens that are closely related to ogoouensis. The other species, Cryptomyrus ona, has been a puzzle to scientists since their discovery, but researchers have held off on identifying the specimens as a new species until now. While these are the only two species yet discovered in their genus, there are over 200 separate species of electric fish in the fresh waters of Africa, mostly falling into the related Mormyridae genus. Not all of them, however, have Cryptomyrus ogoouensis‘s impressive chin.

Via Wired

Images via John Sullivan