A new butterflyfish, named for Donald Rumsfeld’s notion of an “unknown unknown”

Main report: Roa rumsfeldi Is No Longer An Unknown Unknown
Other Reporting: Reefs.com, San Francisco Chronicle
Scientific Paper: Zookeys   
New Taxa: Roa rumsfeldi
Categories: Celebrity Taxa | Species Discovery
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A new butterflyfish is described from deep reefs in the Philippines.  Researchers for the California Academy of Sciences realized only muc later that the had a specimen of the same species in a jar, undiscovered, for years. The genus, Roa, with four described species, has as many undescribed species.  The authors name the new fish to honor Donald Rumsfeld and his famous quote as it relates to the challenge in taxonomy in identifying new species.  Referring to the uncertainties of war, Rumsfeld states “there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”  According to author Luis Rocha, “We only realized this species was new after we took a good look at it here at the aquarium in San Francisco, so we think it’s a perfect example of an unknown unknown”.

Live specimen of Roa rumsfeldi sp. n. photographed at the California Academy of Sciences’ Twilight Zone exhibit (photo LA Rocha).

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