Media Releases

New stingray genus discovered in the Amazon

March 2, 2011

TORONTO, ON – A biol­o­gist from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Scar­bor­ough (UTSC) has dis­cov­ered a new kind of trop­i­cal fresh­wa­ter stingray.

Nathan Love­joy, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of ecol­o­gy and evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gy at UTSC, is co-author on a new study detail­ing the dis­cov­ery of a new genus and two new species of stingrays found in the upper Ama­zon.

Dr. Lovejoy’s 10 years of research with his col­lab­o­ra­tor, Marce­lo Rodrigues de Car­val­ho of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sao Pao­lo, con­firmed the first new genus of stingrays from the Ama­zon region in more than two decades.

“It took a con­sid­er­able amount of time to col­lect enough spec­i­mens to describe the species,” says Love­joy, who some­times had to com­pete with inter­na­tion­al fish exporters for the big­ger exam­ples. “They are uncom­mon fish­es and there­fore dif­fi­cult to obtain.”

Their work in the Upper Ama­zon con­firmed the new genus, Heliotry­gon, and the two new species, Heliotry­gon gome­si and Heliotry­gon rosai. Both are known for their large size, pan­cake-like appear­ance, hav­ing a dis­tinct pat­tern of lat­er­al line canals on the ven­tral sur­face and a degen­er­ate spine.

Most of Love­joy and Carvalho’s spec­i­mens came from the Rio Nanay Riv­er, near Iqui­tos, Peru.  Their dis­cov­ery brings the total num­ber of Neotrop­i­cal stingray gen­era to four. Before their study, the last new genus of stingrays of Ama­zon was described in 1987.

“The most impor­tant thing this dis­cov­ery tells us is that there are quite like­ly to be oth­er large fish­es in the Ama­zon yet to be dis­cov­ered and described,” says Love­joy. “Our under­stand­ing of the bio­di­ver­si­ty of this region is not com­plete, by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion.”

Lovejoy’s paper was recent­ly pub­lished in the sci­en­tif­ic jour­nal Zootaxa.


For more infor­ma­tion on the study, please con­tact:

Nathan Love­joy, co-author

Karen Ho
Media and com­mu­ni­ca­tions assis­tant
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Scar­bor­ough Cam­pus