Youngster cashes in on dad’s species-discovery Tweet

Courtesy of Takuya Morihisa
Takuya Morihisa’s son is seen playing with marine life in Matsue.

MATSUE — A father who took to Twitter to boast about his son’s discovery of a new species of shrimp is now ¥462,000 out of pocket. Nevertheless, the proud pop is still smiling.

The boy, who lives with his family in Matsue, stumbled upon a new species of gammaridea — a tiny shrimp-like creature — on a nearby coast. His photographer father, Takuya Morihisa, 42, was keen to tell people about his offspring’s accomplishment and posted a Tweet last November that read: “The gammaridea my son found when he was just 4 turned out to be a new species!” along with a photo of his son making the find and a close-up shot of the new-to-science creature.

Morihisa also wrote that he would give his child ¥1 for every “like” the tweet received.

From Takuya Morihisa’s Twitter account
The tweet announcing the discovery of a new species

The post quickly went viral, racking up 462,000 likes in 24 hours. One comment read, “I’ll share the blame for the financial crash of your household, lol.” Morihisa kept his promise, however, buying his son a casting net and a game console, before depositing the remaining money in a bank account for him.

Now 6, the boy made the discovery in April 2020 when playing with marine creatures on the coast. “I’ve found something!” he yelled upon making his find: a bright red creature, about 4 millimeters long. The critter-loving lad insisted on taking it home.

Morihisa often takes photographs for books that show different creatures, and upon examining the shrimp’s appearance he thought it might be a type of subeyokoebi: colorful gammaridea. After failing to turn up detailed information, he emailed a photo to Hiroyuki Ariyama of the Osaka Museum of Natural History. Ariyama, an expert on gammaridea, said: “It may be a new species. Can you send me a sample?”

Morihisa then revisited the coastal area where he caught about 10 specimens, and sent them to Ariyama. About a year later, Morihisa learned his son had happened across a novel species. Ariyama wrote a paper on the shrimp, announcing it as a new species in an international academic journal in November last year. Its Japanese name, chigoke-subeyokoebi, comes from the fact that Morihisa’s son found it living inside a chigokemushi — a type of aquatic invertebrate.

According to Morihisa, his son is a genuine creature enthusiast, often referring to living things that some people find grotesque as “cool.” When the boy learned he had discovered a hitherto unknown shrimp, he jumped for joy, shouting, “I really found a new species?” Of his wallet-crippling internet post, Morihisa says he decided to tweet about the shrimp because he was “so happy.”

Droves of netizens praised the 4-year-old’s find, and Morihisa’s financial outlay, which he initially thought would top-out at around ¥20,000,” swelled quickly overnight. To meet the unexpected expense, Morihisa used savings earmarked for a new camera to purchase the things his son requested.

The budding young researcher now plans to expand the areas where he searches for chigoke-subeyokoebi and investigate its habitats.

“My son made this discovery because he treats all living creatures equally,” Morihisa says. “I hope we can continue to pursue [similar discoveries] together as a family.”