Wednesday, 13 January 2021

RIP, smooth handfish. You were weird, and now you’re extinct


The red handfish, a cousin of the now-extinct smooth handfish.
The red handfish, a cousin of the now-extinct smooth handfish.
(Image: © Auscape/Getty)

An unusual-looking fish with bulging eyes, a mohawk-like fin on its head and the ability to walk on the seafloor with its pectoral and pelvic fins has reached a grim milestone. The so-called smooth handfish (Sympterichthys unipennis) has been declared extinct, the first modern marine fish on record to completely vanish, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

A mere 200 years ago, the smooth handfish was so plentiful in Australia — where it basked in Tasmania's warm, coastal waters — that it was among the first fish species to be scientifically documented Down Under. In 1802, French naturalist François Péron nabbed the first specimen of the odd-looking creature with a dip net in southeastern Tasmania, a feat that worked because handfish live in shallow waters, the IUCN said in a statement

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