Researchers have discovered a new species of sea horses in eastern South Africa. The team has named the new seahorse Hippocampus nalu. The discovery of new species--a pygmy seahorse which is about the size of rice grain has shocked the researchers because all seven species of pygmy seahorse, except for one in Japan, inhabit the Coral Triangle, a biodiverse region of more than two million square miles in the southwestern Pacific.
The surprising discovery has been described in a study published May 19 in the journal ZooKeys.
According to National Geographic, the pygmy seahorse live 5,000 miles away from southwestern Pacific, and its the first pygmy seahorse seen in all of the Indian Ocean and the continent of Africa.
Interestingly, the new species look similar to other pygmy seahorses. However, the difference is, it has one set of spines on its back that have sharp, incisor-like points on the tips, as reported by National Geographic.
The study shows how little we know about the ocean, particularly when it comes to tiny creatures, the authors say—and that there are likely many more pygmy seahorse species to be identified.
The study suggests that Hippocampus nalu diverged from the ancestors of all known pygmy seahorses species more than 12 million years ago.