Aug 17, 2006

New species found on eBay

Unusually colorful sea urchins on sale were really a new species.
Close investigation by Simon Coppard of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature at the Natural History Museum in London, showed that the urchins, which came from the seas around the islands of New Caledonia in the Pacific, did not belong to any known species. He named them Coelopleurus exquisitus after the colourful markings on the creatures' spines and shell.

Sea urchins regularly appear for sale on the web and it is not uncommon for scientists to get emails from confused collectors asking for help in discerning exactly what species they have. However, large numbers appearing for sale recently led to an explosion of interest. "Every week I'd get collectors contacting me and asking me to identify the species," Dr Coppard told New Scientist.

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