Amaryllis philatelica, Lowry & Stoddart, 2002

Lowry, J. K. & Stoddart, H. E., 2002, The Amaryllididae of Australia (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Lysianassoidea), Records of the Australian Museum 54, pp. 129-214 : 166-169

publication ID


persistent identifier

treatment provided by


scientific name

Amaryllis philatelica

sp. nov.

Amaryllis philatelica n.sp.

Figs. 31–34, Plate 1b

Type material. HOLOTYPE, female, 20.5 mm, AM P 37165; 1 PARATYPE, male, 18.2 mm, AM P 37166 ; 2 PARATYPES, males, AM P 37167; Montague Island , New South Wales, Australia, 36°15'S 150°14'E, 23 m GoogleMaps , R. Kuiter , 28 December 1978. 1 PARATYPE, female, AM P 26644, Montague Island , NSW, Australia, 36°15'S 150°14'E, 25 m, algae GoogleMaps , R. Kuiter, 30 December 1977 .

Additional material. NEW SOUTH WALES: 1 male, AM P 30479, Point Perpendicular, Jervis Bay, 35°06'S 150°48'E, 20 m, on boulder surface, A. Jones & R. Hartnall , 25 May 1980 GoogleMaps . BASS STRAIT: 1 specimen, NMV J7653 , 40 View Materials km SSW of Lakes Entrance, 38°18.0'S 147°37.0'E, 55 m, muddy fine shell, epibenthic sled, M. Gomon & R. Wilson , 31 July 1983 GoogleMaps , FV Silver Gull , stn BSS-209 . TASMANIA: 5 specimens, AM P 57882, Waterfall Bay, Tasman Peninsula, 43°04'S 147°56'E, 17–18 m, bryozoans and sponges on rock wall, K. L. Gowlett-Holmes , 7 December 1997 GoogleMaps . SOUTH AUSTRALIA: 3 specimens, SAMA C5984 , 2 View Materials km S of SW tip of West Island, Franklin Island, Nuyts Archipelago , 32°27'S 133°40'E, 36.5 m, sand with low rock outcrops, P. Aerfeldt & N. Holmes , 23 February 1983 GoogleMaps . WESTERN AUSTRALIA: 1 specimen, AM P 37168, SE of Foul Bay, 35°12'S 117°00'E, 75 m, CSIRO Fisheries , 8 August 1962 GoogleMaps , HMAS Gascoyne , stn G3 /160/62 .

Type locality. Montague Island , NSW, Australia, 36°15'S 150°14'E, 23 m depth GoogleMaps .

Description. Based on holotype female, 20.5 mm, AM P37165. Head much deeper than long, anterior margin with notch extended into a slit; rostrum absent; eye present, elongate, reniform. Antenna 1 peduncular article 1 not ballshaped proximally, distal margin without a medial spine; peduncular article 2 medium length; flagellum with callynophore, calceoli absent. Antenna 2 flagellum about as long as that of antenna 1, without calceoli. Mouthpart bundle subconical. Epistome/upper lip with broad midanterior bulge (lateral view). Mandible lacinia mobilis a stemmed, distally-cusped blade; accessory setal row with intermediate setae; palp article 2 with 13 posterodistal setae, article 3 without A3-seta. Maxilliped outer plate with distal margin smooth, medial margin without notch.

Gnathopod 1 carpus subequal in length to propodus; propodus, posterior margin without robust setae. Gnathopod 2 palm slightly acute, with 3 lateral robust setae, 2 medial robust setae. Pereopods 3 and 4 merus and carpus without setal fringe. Pereopod 4 coxa with anterior and posterior margins subparallel, anteroventral corner rounded. Pereopods 5–7 with distal articles elongate, dactyls short and stocky. Pereopod 5 basis expanded posteriorly, rounded. Pereopod 7 basis subrectangular, posteroventral corner subquadrate, posteroventral margin straight.

Epimeron 3 posterior margin smooth, with notch slightly above rounded posteroventral corner. Uropod 1 peduncle dorsolateral margin with 14 robust setae; outer ramus without large spines between robust setae. Uropod 2 inner ramus not constricted. Uropod 3 rami lanceolate; without plumose setae; outer ramus 1-articulate. Telson slightly cleft (about 25%).

Male (sexually dimorphic characters). Based on paratype male, 18.2 mm, AM P 37166. Antenna 1 flagellum without callynophore. Antenna 2 flagellum with calceoli. Mandible palp article 2 with 26 posterodistal setae. Gnathopod 2 palm with 2 lateral robust setae .

Etymology. The specific name philatelica alludes to the species’ public debut on an Australian two cent postage stamp issued in 1984. (The species was then incorrectly identified as Waldeckia sp. ).

Remarks. Amaryllis philatelica appears to be most similar to a small group of species with a smooth posterior margin on epimeron 3 and a subrectangular basis on pereopod 7 ( A. macrophthalma , A. philatelica and A. spencerensis ). It differs from A. macrophthalma and A. spencerensis in that the notch on the posterior margin of epimeron 3 is only slightly above the posteroventral corner.

Figure 31. Amaryllis

AM P37165, Montague Island, NSW.

Amaryllis philatelica is often found in association with the soft coral Capnella gaboensis and bryozoans of the genus Triphyllozoon . Judging from its subconical-shaped mouthpart bundle, A. philatelica might feed by nipping off the small polyps of its hosts.

This species has attracted the attention of scuba divers and underwater photographers, partly because of its (relatively) large size but mostly because of its striking colour pattern. The body is a brilliant deep crimson with each segment of the pereon and pleon, the head, each of the coxae and the bases of pereopods 5 to 7 outlined in white; the antennae, protruding mouthparts and distal articles of the pereopods are orange/yellow and there is a single orange/ yellow stripe along the dorsum. Lowry (in Karacsonyi, 1997) commented that the brilliant colour pattern might be a warning to potential predators that A. philatelica tastes unpleasant. The fact that individuals show non-cryptic behaviour—they do not avoid divers and have been known to leave their host and sit on the hand or head of a diver trying to photograph them (Karacsonyi, pers. comm.)—is circumstantial evidence for this theory.

The original colour photographs used to produce the 1984 postage stamp were taken by Rudi Kuiter, at Montague Island. They have been subsequently reproduced on postcards and as an illustration of Amaryllis sp. in Debelius (1999) and Edgar (1997). Some stunning photographs of “the red sea flea” were taken by Tony Karacsonyi, near Ulladulla, and published in Australian Geographic ( Karacsonyi, 1997) and as a poster released by Sportdiving Magazine.

Habitat. Amaryllis philatelica has been recorded and collected on bryozoans, soft corals and sponges.

Distribution. Southeastern and southern Australia; from Solitary Islands on the east coast to Foul Bay in southwestern Australia; 20–75 m depth.


Australian Museum


Museum National d' Histoire Naturelle, Paris (MNHN) - Vascular Plants


Departamento de Geologia, Universidad de Chile


Royal Botanic Gardens, National Herbarium of New South Wales


Harvard University - Arnold Arboretum


Museum Victoria


Botanische Staatssammlung München


Royal Botanic Gardens


Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Leiden University branch


South Australia Museum


Department of Botany, Swedish Museum of Natural History


Nanjing University


Australian National Fish Collection


Chinese Academy of Sciences

Darwin Core Archive (for parent article) View in SIBiLS Plain XML RDF