Although it’s not quite a Game of Thrones-style fire breathing dragon, a new species of seadragon has scientists pretty excited. The Ruby Seadragon was recently discovered in the Pacific Ocean after being overlooked for 150 years, and it has marine biologists pumped about the potential Earth’s oceans hold for future discoveries.
Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego made the discovery while researching the two known species of seadragons as part of an effort to understand and protect the exotic and delicate creatures. It was during this research that they uncovered this new, third species, now referred to as the “Ruby Seadragon,” due to its brilliant ruby red hue.
Scripps graduate student, Josefin Stiller, marine biologist Nerida Wilson of the Western Australia Museum, and Greg Rouse of Scripps Oceanography used DNA and anatomical research tools to confirm that this was, indeed a new species that had gone unnoticed for more than a century.
“We’re now in the golden age of taxonomy and these powerful DNA tools are making it possible for more new species that every to be discovered,” said Rouse in a press release. “That such large, charismatic marine species are being found is evidence that there is still much more to be done. This latest finding provides further proof of the value of scientific collections and museum holdings.”
“All this time we thought there were only two species,” added Wilson. “Suddenly, there is a third species! If we can overlook such a charismatic new species for so long, we definitely have many more exciting discoveries awaiting us in the oceans.”