"Unusual" Armored Catfish

National Geopgraphic, Christine Dell'Amore

"A new species of suckermouth armored catfish has been found in Ecuador, a new study says.

DePaul University scientist Windsor Aguirre found five specimens of the odd-looking fish in 2008 in the Santa Rosa River (map) and sent them to Alabama's Auburn University for identification.

"When we first realized it was new, it wasn't particularly surprising--this family [of catfish] increases in number every year," said study leader Milton Tan, a Ph.D. student in biology at Auburn.

Instead, what interested Tan and colleagues is that the 2.8-inch-long (7-centimeter-long) species--unlike its relatives--lacks armored plates on the sides of its head."