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Adriana Aquino

OLogy Series
ologist
card
208

Adriana Aquino

OLogy Series
ologist

Growing up in Argentina, Adriana Aquino loved nature, especially the ocean. As a young girl, she wondered what it would be like to explore the deep sea. Her passion for nature led her to become an ichthyologist, a scientist who studies fish. Adriana works at the American Museum of Natural History, where she develops educational materials, teaches, and studies Amazonian catfish.

It's Hard Work Being a Scientist
Adriana has had close encounters with the snapping jaws of crocodiles in the Amazon. She has plucked tiny blood-
sucking ticks off her body after a hike through the thick rain forests of Argentina in search of the catfish she studies -- Hypoptopoma inexpectata (i-pop-to-po-ma e-nex-pec-ta-ta). Adriana has taken ice-cold baths in below-freezing conditions. She has traveled to previously
unexplored areas of Argentina where the rivers are filled with fish not yet seen or identified by scientists. Out in the field, Adriana uses fishing nets to capture specimens. She puts them in water and then waits up all night to watch them. After Adriana has collected her specimens, she dissects them. She looks closely at every aspect of a fish -- from its bones to the contents of its stomach. She might spend years studying the evidence she has collected in the field. It's hard work, but someone has to do it!

Hypoptopoma is an armored catfish because:

its body is made of steel

it's magnetic

its armor-like plates made of bones cover its body

Are you right?

Correct!

Hypoptopoma has armor-like plates that cover its body. Scientists believe that these plates may help protect this fish. The plates also weigh them down so they aren't dragged through rough currents.

Adriana has discovered several new species of Hypoptopoma, a group of armored big-eyed catfish. She named one long, slender species:

elongata

felinefish

adriana

Are you right?

Correct!

Adriana named the long, slender species Hypoptopoma elongata. Scientists often give organisms descriptive names.

To study Hypoptopoma, Adriana must get most of her specimens from the Amazon.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Adriana does travel to South America to study Hypoptopoma, but she relies mainly on specimens already collected by scientists in museums all over the world.

Adriana Aquino
Date of Birth: November 5, 1964
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Position: research associate in the Ichthyology Department at the American Museum of Natural History
Education: Ph.D., University of La Plata
Field of interest: ichthyology and the systematics of catfishes

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH, Denis Finnin.