Fish Being Served as Food Found to Be New Species

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. specimen / ˈspɛs ə mən / (n) – a sample that represents a group

    The scientists need specimens of the strange insect to know more about it.

  2. dwell / dwɛl / (v) – to live in a specific location

    Many sharks dwell near the beach, so swimmers don’t go there.

  3. distinctive / dɪˈstɪŋk tɪv / (adj) – having a trait or characteristic that is unique or easy to notice

    Predators often go after animals with distinctive marks because they are easy to spot.

  4. resemblance / rɪˈzɛm bləns / (n) – the state of looking similar to someone or something

    There is a strong resemblance between the two men because they are father and son.

  5. advance / ædˈvæns / (v) – to support the progress of something

    The development of new technology helps advance our knowledge of the ocean.


Read the text below.

Scientists have confirmed that a fish being served as food in Australia is a previously unknown species.

In 2000, a fisherman showed photographs of a type of grouper to Queensland Museum fish expert Jeff Johnson. Johnson had never seen the fish before, and he immediately thought it might be a new species.

For years, Johnson tried to secure specimens of the fish but was unsuccessful. In 2017, he found and bought five of the fish at a market in Brisbane and started working to prove that they were a new species.

Johnson collaborated with Dr. Jessica Worthington Wilmer, a geneticist at the Queensland Museum. She took the specimens to the museum’s lab and compared them to fish samples in other museum collections. The comparison proved that the species was new.

Reportedly delicious as food, the fish is caught off the central section of the Great Barrier Reef, where it dwells in depths of about 220 to 230 meters. It measures at least 70 centimeters, and while it lacks distinctive bodily markings, it has dark edges around some fins. It has a close resemblance to other grouper species. This explains why it remained unnoticed for a long time.

According to Queensland Museum Chief Executive Dr. Jim Thompson, genetic research, such as the method done on the fish, is gaining popularity as a way to identify new species. He feels fortunate to have a readily accessible molecular lab at the Queensland Museum that aids scientific research and analysis. The recent discovery, he claims, is remarkable proof that museums are indeed helpful in preserving and advancing scientific knowledge.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the method the museum used is reliable in confirming that a species is unique? Why or why not?
• In your opinion, is it important to confirm whether a species is unique or not? Explain.

Discussion B

• Do you agree that museums are the best places to preserve and advance scientific knowledge? Why or why not?
• Other than using museums, how else can scientific knowledge be preserved?