MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Researchers have discovered a new species of small, translucent fish in the lower Elk River near West Virginia's capital.
Stuart Welsh, an assistant professor in the Wildlife and Fisheries Resources Program at West Virginia University, named the species Crystallaria cincotta, or diamond darter. It was found near Charleston and is a close relative of the crystal darter found in the Mississippi River's drainage basins, WVU said Friday in a news release.
The discovery was published last month in Zootaxa, an international journal for animal taxonomists.
Adult diamond darters range from 3 to 5 inches long. They have fewer cheek scales than crystal darters. Other differences include sickle-shaped pelvic fins, a dark spot in front of the eye and a wide mouth gape, WVU said.
"The discovery of a new species in West Virginia is not something that happens every day," Welsh said. "To our knowledge, the diamond darters found in the Elk River represent the only known extant population of this species."
Welsh named the fish in honor of Dan Cincotta, a fishery biologist with the state Division of Natural Resources and adjunct professor of ichthyology at WVU.