Discovery: A fish called Wakanda

Science

(CNN)(12/13/19)— Scientists have found 71 new species of plants and animals this year. One of their favorites is a fish named Wakanda.

Although the nation of Wakanda only exists in the Marvel comics universe as the home of super-hero, Black Panther, scientists believe they have found a similar version of it underwater.

In secretive reefs 260 feet below the ocean’s surface, these “warrior fish” are accented with vibrant purple hues.

Previously unknown, this new species lives in dark coral reefs, known as “Twilight Zone” reefs, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania.

Classified as a new species of fish known as fairy wrasses, their scales are so deeply pigmented that the deep purple remains even after being preserved for research, when color is usually lost.

Therefore, their scientific name is Cirrhilabrus Wakanda, or the Vibranium Fairy Wrasse, in honor of Wakanda and Black Panther.

According to Yi-Kai Tea, lead author of the study and ichthyology Ph.D. student from the University of Sydney, when they thought about the secretive and isolated nature of these unexplored African reefs, they knew they had to name this new species after Wakanda.

“We’ve known about other related fairy wrasses from the Indian Ocean, but always thought there was a missing species along the continent’s eastern edge. When I saw this amazing purple fish, I knew instantly we were dealing with the missing piece of the puzzle.”

Yi-Kai Tea, Ichthyology Ph.D. Student

Researchers have found 16 other new species of fish this year.

For the full list and explanations of all 71 new species of 2019, click here.

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