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Vibrant rainbow-hued wrasse is officially named a new species

The newly described rose-veiled fairy wrasse is among the greatest living embodiments of a rainbow seen in nature, as this colourful image shows

Life 23 March 2022

New Scientist Default Image

Yi-Kai Tea

Photographer Yi-Kai Tea

THIS vibrant individual is among the greatest living embodiments of a rainbow seen in nature. The rose-veiled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa) is a newly described species, having long been mistakenly grouped with one of its relatives, the equally colourful red velvet fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis).

An international team of researchers recently found that certain specimens of the red velvet wrasse collected in the Maldives had sufficiently different characteristics, particularly in colouration, to warrant a separate identification. The front third of the male rose-veiled fairy wrasse, for example, is coloured magenta with a unique dark purple-red central area (ZooKeys, doi.org/hk86).

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Like most fairy wrasses, the rose-veiled species is mostly found in seas with rubbly seabeds and some coral cover, such as the Indian Ocean, although so far it is only officially known in the tropical waters of the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Its species name is a homage to the national flower of the Maldives, the pink rose, known locally as fiyatoshi finifenmaa.

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