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A New Species of Whiptail Catfish, Genus Loricaria (Siluriformes: Loricariidae), from the Rio Curuá (Xingu Basin), Brazil


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Loricaria birindellii, new species, is described based on two specimens from the Rio Curua, a tributary of the Rio Iriri in the lower Xingu basin of Brazil. In adults the new species is distinguished from all other congeners by having a combination of an elongate dorsal-fin spine (36.0% SL, based on the holotype vs. 16-29%, usually less than 26% SL) that is supported throughout most of its length by the first branched ray, and an inconspicuous (vs. prominent) post-orbital notch with minimum orbital diameter 95.4-97.2% (vs. 71.8-91.5%) of maximum orbital diameter. It is further distinguished from similar and geographically proximate species, L. Iota and L. simillima, by having a more slender body, particularly head width (13.9-14.9% SL vs. 15.2-19.4% SL in L. simillima and 16.4-20.1% SL in L. Iota). The larger specimen of L. birindellii exhibits male breeding characteristics known in other species of Loricaria, including expanded membranous portions of the lower lip, an increase in development of globular papillae on lip surfaces, rounded premaxillary- and dentary-tooth cusps, and slight thickening of the pectoral spine. The smaller specimen of L. birindellii exhibits a different caudal fin pigment pattern and lacks an elongate dorsal spine, suggesting that the species either undergoes ontogenetic transformation or exhibits sexual dimorphism in these characters. Two juvenile specimens (95.6 and 98.0 mm SL) from the Rio das Mortes (Araguaia-Tocantins basin) are tentatively regarded as L. aff. birindellii, based on shared morphological characters and geographic proximity.
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A New Species of Whiptail Catfish, Genus Loricaria
(Siluriformes: Loricariidae), from the Rio Curua´ (Xingu Basin), Brazil
Matthew R. Thomas
and Mark H. Sabaj Pe´rez
Loricaria birindellii, new species, is described based on two specimens from the Rio Curua´, a tributary of the Rio Iriri in
the lower Xingu basin of Brazil. In adults the new species is distinguished from all other congeners by having a
combination of an elongate dorsal-fin spine (36.0% SL, based on the holotype vs. 16–29%, usually less than 26% SL) that
is supported throughout most of its length by the first branched ray, and an inconspicuous (vs. prominent) post-orbital
notch with minimum orbital diameter 95.4–97.2% (vs. 71.8–91.5%) of maximum orbital diameter. It is further
distinguished from similar and geographically proximate species, L. lata and L. simillima, by having a more slender body,
particularly head width (13.9–14.9% SL vs. 15.2–19.4% SL in L. simillima and 16.4–20.1% SL in L. lata). The larger
specimen of L. birindellii exhibits male breeding characteristics known in other species of Loricaria, including expanded
membranous portions of the lower lip, an increase in development of globular papillae on lip surfaces, rounded
premaxillary- and dentary-tooth cusps, and slight thickening of the pectoral spine. The smaller specimen of L. birindellii
exhibits a different caudal fin pigment pattern and lacks an elongate dorsal spine, suggesting that the species either
undergoes ontogenetic transformation or exhibits sexual dimorphism in these characters. Two juvenile specimens (95.6
and 98.0 mm SL) from the Rio das Mortes (Araguaia-Tocantins basin) are tentatively regarded as L. aff. birindellii, based
on shared morphological characters and geographic proximity.
ORICARIA is a group of small to moderate sized
Neotropical catfishes within the subfamily Loricar-
iinae, widely distributed in the Amazonas, Orinoco,
Paraguay, Parana´, and smaller coastal rivers draining the
Guiana and Brazilian shields. The species of Loricaria
typically occur over sandy or muddy substrates of insular
streams to large lowland rivers, floodplain lakes, and coastal
areas (Taylor, 1983; Burgess, 1989; Le Bail et al., 2000; pers.
In a review of the genus Loricaria,Isbru¨cker (1981)
recognized 11 species and two undescribed forms. These
species were distinguished from other loricariine genera
based on external morphological characters, including
elongate, slender filaments on the lips and a low number
of bicuspid premaxillary teeth (usually three to four per
ramus) that are about twice the length of the dentary teeth.
Loricaria, as diagnosed by Isbru¨cker (1981), was recovered as
a monophyletic group by Rapp Py-Daniel (1997) based on
additional synapomorphies including an elongate palatine
with a large lateral flange, lower pharyngeal plates with
crests and a dorsal process, and a large flange for the arrector
ventralis covering part of the basipterygium. Covain and
Fisch-Muller (2007) constructed a key and provided a
synopsis of the genera of Loricariinae, in which Loricaria
was distinguished on the basis of lip and tooth morphology
as described by Isbru¨cker (1981). Those authors performed a
multivariate analysis of combined external qualitative and
quantitative characters resulting in a phenetic group
including Loricaria, Paraloricaria, Ricola, and Brochiloricaria.
A phylogenetic analysis by Covain et al. (2008) using a
combination of external morphological characters and
partial 16S and 18S mitochondrial genes recovered Loricaria
as monophyletic and sister to the Pseudohemiodon group
(Planiloricaria and Crossoloricaria). Delineating species
boundaries within the genus Loricaria remains problematic
and geographic distributions of most species are incom-
pletely known. This is particularly the case with species in
the L. cataphracta complex, of which Isbru¨cker (1981:58)
remarked, ‘‘Many species of this complex show few
distinctive characters when all populations combined are
During the course of a systematic revision of Loricaria by
the senior author, several additional undescribed species
have been identified in museum collections. After a twenty-
year hiatus following Isbru¨cker’s (1981) review, four new
Loricaria were recently described, including one from the ´o
Paraguay drainage (Rodriguez and Miquelarena, 2003) and
three from deep channels of the lower Amazonas and Negro
basins (Thomas and Rapp Py-Daniel, 2008). A recent
expedition to the Xingu basin funded by the All Catfish
Species Inventory ( produced two
specimens of a distinctive undescribed species that we
formally describe in the genus Loricaria based on the
external morphological characters described above.
Institutional abbreviations are as listed at http://www.asih.
Morphometric and meristic data were taken from 110
specimens of Loricaria, including two representing the new
species described herein, two tentatively regarded as con-
specific (i.e., L. aff. birindellii), and 106 representing similar
and geographically proximate species for comparison.
Morphometric methods follow Thomas and Rapp Py-Daniel
(2008), which include 26 point-to-point distances (Fig. 1)
expressed as percentages of either standard length (SL) or
head length (HL; Table 1). Meristic methods and terminol-
ogy follow Isbru¨cker and Nijssen (1978), in part. Dermal
plate terminology follows Schaefer (1997), with the addition
of three triangular plates on the base of caudal fin referred to
herein as post-ural plates. The median post-ural plate was
referred to as basicaudal plate by Thomas and Rapp Py-
Daniel (2008). Bilaterally paired features were counted on
Department of Zoology and Center for Systematic Biology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois 62901; E-mail: Send reprint requests to this address.
Department of Ichthyology, The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103; E-mail:
Submitted: 22 May 2009. Accepted: 7 December 2009. Associate Editor: C. J. Ferraris.
F 2010 by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
DOI: 10.1643/CI-09-097
Copeia 2010, No. 2, 274–283
the left side of the body when possible; in cases of broken or
damaged features on the left side, counts were made on the
right side. Counts of plates in the lateral series include total
lateral plates and posterior (coalesced) lateral plates. Total
lateral plates include those in the median series bearing two
parallel longitudinal odontode keels beginning with the first
plate posterior to the cleithrum (bearing a single odontode
ridge) and ending with the last plate at end of caudal
peduncle, not counting the median post-ural plate. Posterior
(coalesced) lateral plates include those in the lateral series
beginning with the first plate on which the dorsal and
ventral odontode keels meet and continue parallel to each
other to the end of the caudal peduncle. Post-anal plates
include those between the anal-fin insertion and end of
caudal peduncle. Abdominal plates are divided into lateral
abdominal and median abdominal series. Lateral abdominal
plates are the paired series of oblong or rectangular large
plates situated between the pectoral- and pelvic-fin origins.
Median abdominal plates are polygonal to round in shape,
forming a pre-anal shield posteriorly, extending anteriorly
to fill the space between the lateral abdominal plates, and
often covering the pectoral girdle. Among species of
Loricaria, median abdominal plates vary in size, spacing,
coverage, and the number of rows they form between the
lateral abdominal plates. The dorsal flap-like extension of
the iris is referred to as the iris operculum following Douglas
et al. (2002).
Fig. 1. Measurements used in morphometric analyses, as listed in
Table 1. Figure modified from Thomas and Rapp Py-Daniel (2008).
Table 1. Proportional Measurements for Loricaria birindellii (n = 2) and L. aff. birindellii Non-Types (n = 2). Numbers at left margins correspond to
measurements in Figure 1.
Loricaria birindellii
Loricaria aff. birindelliiHolotype Paratype
1 Standard length (mm) 231.9 165.1 95.6 98.0
Percents of standard length
3 Head length 20.2 19.6 22.0 22.8
6 Predorsal length 29.0 27.2 31.6 31.8
7 Dorsal spine length 35.8 22.5 23.2 22.0
9 Body depth 10.1 8.7 9.7 9.4
10 Pectoral spine length 19.9 18.0 20.5 19.2
11 Pelvic spine length 19.4 16.2 20.6 19.6
12 Anal spine length 16.9 15.5 18.0 17.7
13 Post-dorsal length 61.7 63.6 60.2 60.4
14 Post-anal length 52.3 55.7 50.8 51.4
16 Head width 14.9 13.9 16.7 16.0
17 Body width at post-cleithral tip 11.6 10.6 12.3 12.1
22 Body width at dorsal-spine origin 13.0 12.5 12.7 13.1
23 Body width at anal-spine origin 11.7 10.5 11.8 11.5
24 Abdominal length 14.1 12.1 14.0 14.6
25 Thoracic length 16.0 15.7 15.6 15.0
Percents of head length
2 Snout length 54.7 52.9 53.1 52.6
4 Minimum orbital diameter 14.4 17.3 19.8 19.3
5 Maximum orbital diameter 15.7 18.0 20.4 19.9
8 Head depth 42.3 37.4 42.7 40.4
15 Caudal peduncle least depth 6.6 5.9 5.9 5.7
18 Internares width at posterior bony nostrils 11.0 10.8 12.5 10.9
19 Nares to orbit at frontal-sphenotic juncture 18.9 18.7 22.9 21.3
20 Interorbital width at frontal-sphenotic juncture 19.3 18.9 22.3 20.1
21 Orbit at frontal sphenotic juncture to supraoccipital tip 37.2 38.2 37.7 38.1
26 Basicaudal plate length 16.9 13.8 13.7 13.8
Thomas and Sabaj Pe´rez—New species of Loricaria 275
Loricaria birindellii, new species
Figures 2, 3B, 4B–C, 5, 6; Table 1
Holotype.—MZUSP 97210, 231.9 mm SL (male), Brazil, Para´,
Altamira Municipality, Rio Curua´, Iriri-Xingu drainage, near
town of Castelo dos Sonhos, 08u199070S, 055u059230W, 23
October 2007, J. L. O. Birindelli, M. H. Sabaj Pe´rez, L. M.
Sousa, A. N. Netto-Ferreira, and N. K. Lujan.
Paratype.ANSP 189318, 165.1 mm SL, same data as
Diagnosis.In adults Loricaria birindellii is distinguished
from all other nominal species of Loricaria by having a
combination of an elongate dorsal-fin spine (36.0% SL based
on the holotype vs. 16–29%, usually less than 26% SL) that is
supported throughout most of its length by the first branched
ray (Fig. 2A) and an inconspicuous (vs. prominent) post-
orbital notch (Fig. 3) with minimum orbital diameter 95.4–
97.2% (vs. 71.8–91.5%) of maximum orbital diameter. It is
further distinguished from similar and geographically prox-
imate species, L. lata and L. simillima, by having a narrower
head width (13.9–14.9% SL vs. 15.2–19.4% SL in L. simillima
and 16.4–20.1% SL in L. lata), from L. clavipinna by having
more divergent plates (21 vs. 18–19) and fewer coalesced
plates (13 vs. 15–16) in the lateral series, and from L.
cataphracta by having weakly (vs. strongly) developed odon-
tode crests on head and dorsal trunk plates, more divergent
plates (21 vs. 17–20, usually 19) and fewer coalesced plates (13
vs. 13–17, usually 15–16) in the lateral series.
Description.—Standard length of specimens examined
231.9 mm (holotype) and 165.1 mm (paratype). Additional
morphometric data presented in Table 1. Body elongate and
slender, dorsoventrally depressed, widest at cleithrum. In
dorsal view, head acutely triangular with slightly rounded
snout and shallowly convex lateral margins from snout tip
to opercula. In frontal view, head broadly triangular. Dorsal
profile of head from snout tip to parieto-supraoccipital tip
convex, from parieto-supraoccipital tip to dorsal-fin origin
shallowly concave. Dorsal profile of body from dorsal-fin
origin to caudal peduncle shallowly concave. Greatest body
depth at dorsal-fin origin, 10.1% SL (holotype) and 8.7% SL
(paratype). Eye moderately large, minimum orbital diameter
14.4% HL (holotype) and 17.3% HL (paratype); iris oper-
culum present. Post-orbital notch present, but shallow,
inconspicuous (Fig. 3B); maximum orbital diameter 15.7%
HL (holotype) and 18.0% HL (paratype).
Entire body covered with dermal plates except for ventral
surface of head anterior to branchiostegals, portions of
median abdominal area, around bases of pelvic fins, and V-
shaped area surrounding anus. Dermal plates on dorsum of
body from snout tip to dorsal-fin origin with weakly
developed odontode crests. Odontodes weakly developed
on lateral margins of head from snout tip to opercle and
along anterodorsal margin of orbit. Single weakly developed
odontode crest originating on each frontal, converging
posteriorly with its pair to form two parallel, narrowly
separated crests on parieto-supraoccipital plate. Dorsal and
mid-dorsal plate series between compound pterotic and
dorsal-fin origin each with weakly developed single median
crest of odontodes. Lateral surface of exposed cleithrum
with median keel of odontodes.
Upper lip narrow with numerous marginal fringe barbels,
each simple, bifid, or trifid (Fig. 6). Maxillary barbel short,
even with or slightly longer than marginal fringe barbels on
lower lip, with simple or bifid secondary barbels. Lower lip
well developed with conspicuous median notch; surfaces
covered with numerous elongate filaments; marginal fringe
barbels simple. Premaxillary teeth three to four (modally
three) per ramus, each tooth consisting of slender stalk
ending in enlarged bilobed crown; lateral cusp small,
rounded or conical; medial large, rounded (holotype) or
conical (paratype). Buccal papillae dorsal to premaxillary
teeth as long or longer than premaxillary teeth, arranged in
cluster of approximately 16. Dentary teeth six to nine
(modally eight) per ramus; less than half length of
premaxillary teeth; structure similar to that of premaxillary
teeth except cusps shorter, more rounded, especially in
Total plates in lateral series 34. Anterior 21 lateral plates
with two parallel odontode keels widely separated, con-
verging posteriorly toward midline on caudal peduncle;
posterior (coalesced) lateral plates 13. Post-anal plates 20
(holotype) and 21 (paratype). Lateral abdominal plates nine,
rectangular and elongate. Median abdominal area almost
completely covered with large polygonal plates, arranged in
four to six rows in space between lateral abdominal plates,
becoming smaller and more irregularly distributed ante-
riorly and across pectoral girdle (Figs. 4B–C).
Dorsal-fin rays I,6, last ray split to base. Adpressed dorsal
fin reaching thirteenth (holotype) and ninth (paratype)
plate posterior to its origin; distal margin of fin shallowly
concave when erected; dorsal-fin spine in holotype elongate
(36% SL) and flexible distally, supported throughout most
its length by first branched ray (Fig. 2A). Pectoral-fin rays
I,6. Adpressed pectoral fin reaching seventh lateral plate
posterior to cleithrum; distal margin of fin shallowly
concave when erected. Pelvic-fin rays I,5. Unbranched
pelvic-fin ray (spine) longest, reaching to anterior third of
anal-fin length. Anal-fin rays I,4, last ray split to base.
Adpressed anal fin reaching seventh plate posterior to its
origin; distal margin of fin straight to shallowly convex
when erected. Principal caudal-fin rays i,10,i. Distal margin
of caudal fin concave, dorsal principal unbranched ray
produced into extremely long trailing filament (Fig. 2).
Coloration.—In alcohol, ground color light brown dorsally
and laterally, pale yellow ventrally. Head and nuchal region
with diffuse pattern of darker brown vermiculations;
portion from snout just anterior to nares to posterior
margin of parieto-supraoccipital slightly darker than re-
maining head and predorsal (nuchal) region of body. Lips
and barbels pale except dorsal surface of maxillary barbel
and upper lip light brown; naked region between upper lip
and plated margin of snout with few small irregular patches
of dark pigment.
Body with about six extremely faint brown saddles in
holotype (Fig. 2A); saddles darker brown and better defined
in paratype (Fig. 2B) as follows. First saddle approximately
situated on two to three plates along bases of second to fifth
dorsal-fin rays, and expanded ventrally. Second saddle
poorly distinguished from first, on about four plates
beginning at posterior insertion of dorsal fin. Third saddle
narrowest and diffuse, on seventh and small portion of
eighth plate from dorsal fin. Fourth saddle distinct, on tenth
and eleventh plates from dorsal fin. Fifth and sixth saddles
similarly distinct, on fifteenth and part of sixteenth and
nineteenth and twentieth plates from dorsal fin, respec-
276 Copeia 2010, No. 2
Fig. 2. Loricaria birindellii, new species: (A) holotype, MZUSP 97210, 231.9 mm SL, dorsal, lateral, and ventral views; (B) paratype, ANSP 189318,
165.1 mm SL, dorsal view. Scale bars 5 1 cm.
Thomas and Sabaj Pe´rez—New species of Loricaria 277
tively. Widths of three posteriormost saddles nearly con-
stant, but lighter interspaces slightly decreasing posteriorly.
Dorsal-fin spine with faint and irregular bands in
holotype; with dark brown bands separated by lighter
interspaces of nearly equal width in paratype. Dorsal-fin
membranes and rays basally with large triangular dark gray-
brown blotch, its distal border extending obliquely from
about mid-lengths of first to last rays; central portion
relatively depigmented on membranes, forming partially
clear band; distal third dark gray-brown becoming black
towards margin, and with few pale windows centered on
rays. Pectoral fin variably dusky, but without distinct marks;
leading margin of spine slightly depigmented (particularly
ventrally), lighter than remaining fin. Pelvic fin variably
dusky with lighter spine; basalmost portion paler, depig-
mented relative to remaining fin in holotype. Anal fin pale
in holotype; paratype with some dark pigment scattered
near bases of two posteriormost rays, in extremely faint
narrow band near mid-length, and along distal margin.
Caudal fin marked distally with dark vertical crescent;
shape of crescent, as well as other details of color pattern,
differs accordingly. Holotype (Fig. 5A) with extremely faint
vertical lenticular blotch on base of caudal fin followed by
pale region with diffuse elongate blotches; distal crescent
with continuous portion confined to lower lobe (truncated
dorsally), more or less uniformly black to margin; upper
portion of crescent broken into five small dark brown
submarginal blotches paralleling distalmost curvature of fin.
Paratype (Fig. 5B) differs by having distinct dark gray-brown
vertical lenticular blotch on post-ural plates and bases of
rays and membranes followed by depigmented pale band;
distal half dominated by dark brown to black submarginal
crescent irregularly interrupted by small pale to clear oval
windows; margin relatively depigmented except for ventral-
most portion. In both specimens upper spine and filamen-
tous extension with narrow dark brown bands separated by
wider pale interspaces; lower spine pale with few faint bands
along proximal two-thirds and distal third black to tip,
completing dark crescent.
In life, based on holotype collected at night, lighter
ground color tan to copper dorsally and laterally; darker
vermiculations on head and nuchal region raw umber; dark
saddles not evident (Fig. 6). Naked regions on breast and
abdomen white; abdominal plates with golden-yellow irides-
cence. Paired fins tan to copper dorsally; pelvic fin with
salmon tint and slightly lighter than pectoral fin. Crescent
along distal margin of lower caudal-fin lobe jet-black.
Sexual dimorphism.—The holotype is an adult male, exhibit-
ing filaments on the lower lip that are reduced in length,
with an increased development of globular papillae on the
lip surfaces surrounding the bases of the filaments. The
surface area of the lower lip is slightly enlarged through
expansion of membranous connections between the lower
Fig. 4. Abdominal plate development and configuration in (A) Loricaria aff. birindellii, MNRJ 25209, 98 mm SL; and L. birindellii (B) paratype, ANSP
189318, 165.1 mm SL, and (C) holotype, MZUSP 97210, 231.9 mm SL. Scale bars 5 1 cm.
Fig. 3. Head in lateral view comparing post-orbital notch (shaded)
development: (A) Loricaria simillima, INHS 39968, 217.7 mm SL, with
deep and angular notch, also observed in L. cataphracta, L. clavipinna,
and L. lata; and (B) L. birindellii, ANSP 189318, paratype, 165.1 mm SL,
with shallow notch, also observed in L. aff. birindellii.
278 Copeia 2010, No. 2
lip and rictal barbel, and at the median cleft. Premaxillary-
and dentary-tooth cusps are slightly shortened and rounded
(vs. more elongate and conical in the smaller paratype).
Odontodes on the pelvic- and anal-fin spines are blunt (vs.
conical in the paratype). The pectoral-fin spine is evenly
thickened from its base to approximately three-fourths its
Remarks.—Among the species of Loricaria,anelongate
dorsal-fin spine supported by a similar elongation in the
first branched ray is a condition known only for the
holotype of L. birindellii. Loricaria apeltogaster shares an
elongate dorsal-fin spine; however, the dorsal- as well as the
pectoral-fin spines develop into long trailing filaments
similar to that produced from the dorsal principal un-
branched ray of the caudal fin. These trailing filaments are
longer than that produced from the dorsal-fin spine of L.
birindellii, and are not supported by a similar elongation of
the most proximate branched ray. Loricaria birindellii is
further distinguished from L. apeltogaster by having weakly
(vs. strongly) developed odontode crests on the head and
trunk plates, large polygonal plates (vs. numerous small or
granular plates) in the median abdominal space, narrower
head width (13.9–14.9% SL vs. 17.4–20.4% SL) and narrower
body width at dorsal-fin origin (12.5–13.0% SL vs. 14.6–
19.9% SL). Because of the substantial size difference between
the holotype and paratype, and lack of additional compara-
tive material, it is unknown if dorsal-fin spine elongation in
L. birindellii is a sexually dimorphic character possessed only
by males in breeding condition, or if it is an ontogenetic
character of adult males and females.
The color pattern (dark saddles separated by light inter-
spaces that decrease in size posteriorly) and body shape
(attenuate posteriorly) of Loricaria birindellii and most other
species of Loricaria is comparable to that of other benthic
fishes that live in flowing water over rocky substrates.
Armbruster and Page (1996) hypothesized that North
American fishes with such patterns (e.g., sculpins, darters,
and suckers) achieve crypsis through disruptive coloration.
The light spaces between the saddles mimic rocks and the
dark saddles appear as shadows or gaps between rocks.
Distribution and habitat.—Loricaria birindellii is known only
from the type locality in the Rio Curua´, Iriri-Xingu drainage
(Fig. 7). In the Rio Curua´, the type specimens were collected
at night at a depth of one to two meters in moderate current
in a wide run below an extensive cataract. The water was
relatively clear and substrate below the cataract was
predominantly sand with patches of bedrock and large
lateritic boulders. The type locality was illustrated in Sabaj
Pe´rez and Birindelli (2008:233). Two juvenile specimens
tentatively regarded as L. aff. birindellii were collected in the
Rio das Mortes, Araguaia-Tocantins drainage, Brazil.
Etymology.—In honor of Brazilian ichthyologist Jose´ Luı´s O.
Birindelli, Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de Sa˜o Paulo,
who helped collect the type material and deftly commanded
the 2007 Pipe Expedition to Serra do Cachimbo, Brazil,
leading to the discovery of this species and many other
undescribed fishes.
Prior to the discovery of Loricaria birindellii in the ´o Curua´,
the only other species of Loricaria reported from the Xingu
basin is an undescribed form, ‘‘Loricaria sp. a’’, by Isbru¨cker
(1981), based on three juvenile specimens (BMNH uncata-
logued, 37.9–76.6 mm SL) from the Rio Suyazinha [5Suia-
zinho], a tributary of the Rio Suia´-Missu, in the upper Xingu
drainage. Isbru¨cker (1981) described these specimens as
being reminiscent of L. simillima, but did not elaborate on
how they differed from other species of Loricaria. Based on
the description of these small specimens and photograph of
a single individual (Isbru¨cker, 1981:82), we do not consider
them to be conspecific with L. birindellii, but rather likely
juveniles of L. simillima or L. lata, both of which share a
broader head width and well developed post-orbital notch.
In juvenile and sometimes adult specimens of L. simillima,
we have observed the V-shaped pale area on the dorsum of
the snout, as well as other pigmentation features Isbru¨cker
(1981) described for ‘‘Loricaria sp. a’’. For example, recent
collections from the upper Rio Tocantins contain juveniles
resembling this putatively undescribed form mixed with
larger and likely conspecific specimens we identified as L.
simillima. In contrast to L. birindellii, all of these specimens
have a distinctly broader head and trunk, shorter caudal
peduncle, well developed post-orbital notch, and different
pigmentation features. Apart from the elongate dorsal-fin
spine, L. birindellii is more similar to L. cataphracta in body
shape, but differs in having weakly (vs. strongly) developed
odontode crests on the dorsal head and trunk plates, as well
as meristic features (see Diagnosis). The holotype of L.
birindellii exhibits characteristics of the lips, teeth, and fin
odontodes reported for breeding males in Loricaria and other
putatively derived members of the Loricariini (Isbru¨cker,
1981; Isbru¨cker and Nijssen, 1992).
In a collection (MNRJ 25209) containing eight juvenile
specimens from the Rio das Mortes (Araguaia-Tocantins
drainage), six are here identified as L. aff. lata, but two (95.6
and 98.0 mm SL) possess characteristics of L. birindellii,
specifically the relatively large size of the orbit, lack of a
conspicuous post-orbital notch, and abdominal plate pat-
tern (Figs. 3B, 4A). The presence of a notch extending from
the posterior orbital rim is a character shared among most
members of the Loricariini (Isbru¨cker, 1981; Burgess, 1989).
Most species of Loricaria have a prominent post-orbital
notch that is angular in shape (Fig. 3A), whereas in some it is
present, but weakly developed and inconspicuous (as in L.
birindellii; Fig. 3B). The only species lacking the notch
entirely are L. piracicabae, L. prolixa, and L. lentiginosa
(Isbru¨cker, 1981; Isbru¨cker and Nijssen, 1978; pers. obs.).
In addition to having a shallow, inconspicuous post-orbital
notch, the two juvenile specimens in MNRJ 25209 exhibit a
nascent abdominal plate pattern that is similar to, although
less developed than the two larger types of L. birindellii
(Fig. 4A vs. B–C). Apart from the size discrepancy, they differ
from the types of L. birindellii by lacking conspicuous dorsal
saddles and caudal fin banding patterns, and by having
fewer total lateral plates (32–33 vs. 34) and lateral abdom-
inal plates (7–8 vs. 9).
Lack of sufficient material makes it impossible to deter-
mine at present whether the two juveniles from Rio das
Mortes (Araguaia-Tocantins drainage) represent a distinct
undescribed species of Loricaria, or broaden the known
distribution of L. birindellii beyond its type locality in Rio
Curua´. Either case is corroborated by distribution patterns of
other fishes. For example, Doras higuchii, a species of thorny
catfish, occurs in the Curua´ (as well as the Jari, lower
Trombetas, and Xingu, including its upper tributaries), but
Thomas and Sabaj Pe´rez—New species of Loricaria 279
is apparently replaced by D. higuchii in the Araguaia-
Tocantins basin (Sabaj Pe´rez and Birindelli, 2008). Likewise,
Hassar, another genus of thorny catfish, is represented by
H. cf. affinis in the Curua´ and Rio Culuene, a tributary of
the upper Xingu (Fig. 7), and H. wilderi in the lower
Tocantins and Rio Araguaia including its tributary Rio das
Mortes (MHSP, pers. obs.). Although these doradid dis-
tributions argue against the occurrence of Loricaria birin-
dellii in the Tocantins-Araguaia basin, they do anticipate its
occurrence in the upper Xingu. Support for the alternative
scenario wherein the distribution of Loricaria birindellii
includes the Araguaia-Tocantins exists among ghost knife-
fishes (Apteronotidae). Apteronotus camposdapazi, a species
described by de Santana and Lehmann (2006) from its type
locality in the upper Tocantins (Fig. 7), was more recently
discovered in the Rio Curua´ (MZUSP 96187; MHSP, pers.
Loricaria apeltogaster: Argentina, Santa Fe´: MCP 10979, 1,
324 mm SL, ´o Parana´(Rı´o de la Plata drainage), La Isla
Carabajal, 31u359S, 60u419W. Brazil, Mato Grosso State:
drainage), Baı´a do Mimoso, mouth of Baı´a da Mata,
16u119S, 55u579W; Rio Grande do Sul State: MCP 11891,
1, 264.5 mm SL, MCP 12424, 4, 266.7–282.8 mm SL, Rio
Uruguai (Rı´o de la Plata drainage), Rancho da Amizade,
28u389S, 56u029W. Paraguay: BMNH 1895.5.17.105 (lecto-
type), 176.9 mm SL, BMNH 1895.5.17.106 (paralectotype),
185.5 mm SL, BMNH 1895.5.17.107 (paralectotype),
189.9 mm SL (no specific locality); NMW 45151, 2,
191.6–192.3 mm SL, NMW 46152, 1, 196.5 mm SL, NMW
46159, 1, 204.9 mm SL, ‘Hapitapunta’ (location un-
Loricaria aff. birindellii: Brazil, Mato Grosso State: MNRJ
25209, 2 of 8, 95.6–98.0 mm SL, Rio das Mortes (Araguaia
drainage), Nova Xavantina, 14u40990S, 52u219120W.
Loricaria cataphracta: Brazil, Amazonas State: MCZ 8130, 1,
145 mm SL, Rio Negro; Para´ State: MCZ 8129, 1, 150.5 mm
SL, Rio Para´, Bele´m and environs, 01u279S, 48u299W. French
Guiana, Cayenne: NRM 18186, 3, 134.1–170.5 mm SL,
Grand Bagot River (Comte drainage), sand banks down-
stream of Bagot. Guyana: AMNH 214812, 1, 111.7 mm SL,
Berbice River (Atlantic drainage); AMNH 215086, 2, 121.4–
129.3 mm SL, AMNH 215180, 1, 115.0 mm SL, Demerara
River (Atlantic drainage), Malali; FMNH 53076, 1, 108.6 mm
SL, Creek in Mora Passage, connection between lower
Waini and Barima Rivers, near Morawhanna and Mabar-
uma; ROM 66708, 2, 135–151 mm SL, ROM 66729, 1,
120.5 mm SL, Waini River (Atlantic drainage), Kaniaballi, at
Santa Cruz, 07u409N, 59u149W; ROM 66723, 2, 102.4–
149.4 mm SL, ROM 66727, 1, 150.8 mm SL, Waini River
(Atlantic drainage), Chinese Landing at base camp,
07u319N, 59u339W; ROM 66732, 2, 139.2–194.1 mm SL,
Waikerebi Creek (Waini drainage), Waikerebi Indian Vil-
lage, 07u319N, 59u239W; ROM 66731, 1, 108.6 mm SL,
Pomeroon River (Atlantic drainage), Moruka-Pomeroon,
10 km downstream of Charity, 07u299N, 58u389W. Suri-
name, Brokopondo District: ZMA 106.233, 5, 97.7–
106.5 mm SL, Sara Creek (Suriname drainage), 27 km S of
village dam; Marowijne District: ZMA 106.230, 8, 250.6
280.3 mm SL, Marowijne River, near village Galibi,
05u459N, 54u009W.
Loricaria clavipinna: Peru, Loreto Department: ANSP 68665
(holotype), 138.5 mm SL, ´o Ucayali (Amazonas drainage),
Contamana´, 07u199S, 75u049W; INHS 40389, 1, 126.4 mm SL,
INHS 40468, 1, 157.4 mm SL, INHS 53748, 4, 88.3–173.9 mm
SL, ´o Nanay (Amazonas drainage), Pampa Chica, N edge of
Iquitos, 3u459070N, 73u169590W; INHS 40453, 156.3 mm SL,
´o Nanay (Amazonas drainage), beach about one hour by
canoe upstream from Santa Clara, 3u46.639N, 73u22.219W;
INHS 44218, 4, 102.2–162.6 mm SL, ´o Nanay (Amazonas
drainage), beach upstream from Santa Clara, 13.9 km W
Iquitos bearing 78u,3u46954.60N, 73u21949.60W.
Loricaria lata: Brazil, Goia´s State: BMNH 1889.11.14.64
(paralectotype), 163.1 mm SL, MCZ 46721 (lectotype),
267 mm SL, MCZ 8123 (2 paralectotypes), 195.5–255.6 mm
SL, ZMA 123.731 (paralectotype), 218 mm SL, Rio Vermelho
(Araguaia drainage), Goyaz; MCP 15891, 1, 113.9 mm SL,
Rio Bagagem (Tocantins drainage), 13u599S, 48u199W; MNRJ
13006, 1, 138.9 mm SL, Rio Tocantins, Porto do Garimpo,
13u349050S, 48u069040W; MNRJ 13008, 1, 159.6 mm SL, Rio
Sa˜o Fe´lix (Tocantins drainage), 13u329070S, 48u059050W;
Fig. 5. Variation in caudal fin pigmentation in Loricaria birindellii, new species. (A) Holotype, MZUSP 97210, 231.9 mm SL and (B) paratype, ANSP
189318, 165.1 mm SL. Scale bars 5 1 cm.
280 Copeia 2010, No. 2
MNRJ 18364, 5, 103–158.3 mm SL, Rio Tocantins, pools
along left bank, Ponte Ruba˜o; MNRJ 18554, 2, 94.9–158 mm
SL, Rio Tocantins, downstream of Serra da Mesa Dam,
13u499S, 48u019W.
Loricaria simillima: Bolivia, Beni Department: FMNH 55111,
1, 131.5 mm SL, San Joaquin (Mamore´ drainage); UMMZ
204971, 6, 205.6–224.7 mm SL, ´o Itenez, (Mamore´
drainage), 9 km SE Costa Marques, 12u329S, 24u649W. Brazil,
Fig. 6. Loricaria birindellii, new species, holotype, MZUSP 97210, 231.9 mm SL, dorsal and ventral views of adult male in life.
Thomas and Sabaj Pe´rez—New species of Loricaria 281
Amazonas State: INHS 73014, 1, 125 mm SL, Lago Janauaca´
(Amazonas drainage), ca. 42 km SW of Manaus; MZUSP
56657, 2, 101.6–111.6 mm SL, Rio Amazonas, 03u229480S,
58u479250W; Goia´s State: CAS 6463, 1, 143.2 mm SL, Rio
Santa Teresa (Tocantins drainage), Barra Fazenda; MZUSP
89428, 6, 107–213 mm SL, Rio Palmital, tributary Rio Crixa´s
(Araguaia drainage), near Mundo Novo, under GO-156
bridge, 13u469280S, 50u169W; Rondoˆnia State: FMNH 59669,
3, 124.4–163.9 mm SL, Rio Guapore´ (Madeira drainage),
Maciel rubber farm; UF 100669, 1, 179.2 mm SL, Rio Madeira
(Amazonas drainage), ca. 40 km upstream from Jaciparana´.
Ecuador, Pastaza Province: BMNH 1880.12.8.77 (lectotype),
163.1 mm SL, BMNH 1880.12.8.78 (paralectotype), 158 mm
SL, BMNH 1880.12.8.79 (paralectotype), 151.3 mm SL, ´o
Bobonaza, tributary ´o Pastaza (Maran˜on drainage), at
Canelos, 01u399 S, 77u469W. Peru, Huanuco Department:
ROM 55695, 1 of 7, 106.9 mm SL, ´o Llullapichis (Ucayali
drainage), ca. 2 km upstream from mouth at ´o Pachitea,
09u379S, 74u579W; ROM 55696, 1, 175.8 mm SL, mouth of ´o
Llullapichis tributary (Ucayali drainage), ca. 2 km E of
Panguana Station, 09u379S, 74u559W; Loreto Department:
ANSP 138928, 5, 117.9–188.6 mm SL, ´o Amazonas, vicinity
Iquitos, between Isla Iquitos and Isla Lapuna, near Isla
Lapuna shore; FMNH 111003, 4, 156.5–189.7 mm SL, Laguna
Rimachi, near Can˜o Rimachi (Pastaza-Maran˜on drainage),
4u259490S, 76u409200W; INHS 39873, 1, 89.3 mm SL, ´o
Amazonas, across from Puebla Gallito, 7.68 mi SE Iquitos,
3u499150S, 73u099430W; INHS 39968, 1, 217.7 mm SL, ´o
Itaya (Amazonas drainage), ca. 4–5 km upstream from Iquitos
(Bele´m) above and below mouth of Quebrada Mazana,
3u479710S, 73u179290W; INHS 43343, 1, 164.4 mm SL, ´o
Itaya (Amazonas drainage), 11 km SSW center of Iquitos,
bearing 39u,3u49947.60S, 73u18902.90 W; INHS 52729, 1,
135.1 mm SL, ´o Maran˜on (Amazonas drainage), along S
bank of N channel of ´o Maran˜on opposite Nauta,
4u30.6499S, 73u34.0929W; INHS 53846, 1, 101.3 mm SL, INHS
54992, 1, 116.3 mm SL, SIUC 37868, 1, 100 mm SL, ´o Napo
(Amazonas drainage), opposite Mazan, N channel of ´o
Napo, N of Isla Milagro, 3u28.9869S, 73u05.2039W; INHS
54791, 1, 106 mm SL, ´o Maran˜on (Amazonas drainage),
floodplain along S bank of S channel of ´o Maran˜on due S of
Nauta, 4u30.69S, 73u34.19W; INHS 55407, 1, 150.5 mm SL, ´o
Amazonas, beach along E bank of E channel, opposite Iquitos;
Ucayali Department: NRM 28570, 1, 106.2 mm SL, Lago
Yarinacocha (Ucayali drainage), 8u229S, 74u339W.
We thank the following individuals and institutions for loans of
material and hosting museum visits: B. Brown and S. Schaefer
(AMNH); J. Lundberg (ANSP); J. Maclaine and O. Crimmen
R. Reis (MCP); K. Hartel (MCZ); P. Buckup (MNRJ); L. Sousa, O.
Oyakawa, J. Birindelli, and M. de Pinna (MZUSP); H. Wellendorf
and E. Mikschi (NMW); E. A
hlander and S. Kullander (NRM); E.
Isbru¨cker (ZMA). Special thanks to N. Lujan, A. Netto-Ferreira
and L. Sousa for their expertise in the field on the Pipe
expedition. B. Burr provided invaluable support and guidance
to MRT throughout graduate studies. This research was
supported in part through grants to MRT, including a Field
Museum Visiting Scientist Scholarship, Bo¨hlkeAward(Academy
of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia), Ernst Mayr Award (Harvard
University Museum of Comparative Zoology), Dissertation
Research Award (Southern Illinois University), and the All
Catfish Species Inventory (DEB-0315963).
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Fig. 7. Geographic distribution of Loricaria birindellii (closed circle,
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Hassar cf. affinis) and L. aff. birindellii (open circle), and type locality of
Apteronotus camposdapazi (open square). 1 5 large falls separating
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5 Rio Tocantins. Scale bar ca. 100 km.
282 Copeia 2010, No. 2
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Thomas and Sabaj Pe´rez—New species of Loricaria 283
... Captured individuals were anaesthetized and sacrificed by immersion in eugenol, fixed in 10% formalin solution and later preserved in 70% ethanol. Measurements and counts followed Thomas and Sabaj Pérez (2010), and were included in tables as percentages of standard length (L S ) or head length (L H ). Counts and measurements were made on the left side of specimens when possible, using digital callipers to the nearest 0.1 mm. When a structure was found to be damaged on the left side, the right side of the structure was analysed. ...
... When a structure was found to be damaged on the left side, the right side of the structure was analysed. Plate series nomenclature followed Thomas and Rapp Py-Daniel (2008), Thomas and Sabaj Pérez (2010) and Londoño-Burbano and Reis (2016). Posterior lateral plates were examined here as the median series beginning with the first plate on which the dorsal and ventral odontode keels meet, and continue parallel to each other to the end of the caudal peduncle. ...
Loricaria cuffyi n. sp. is described based on 36 specimens from the Essequibo and upper Negro River drainages in western Guyana and the upper Orinoco River drainage in Venezuela. The new species can be distinguished from sympatric and geographically proximate congeners by a postorbital notch that is inconspicuous, shallow, and rounded; odontode ridges on the dorsum of head and predorsal weakly developed; abdominal plates tightly joined and completely covering the median abdominal space and pectoral girdle; higher anterior lateral plate counts; and coloration characteristics. The distribution of the new species adds to an interesting and well-documented biogeographical pattern exhibited by other Guiana Shield loricariids influenced by the proto-Berbice during the Cenozoic and recent configuration of drainages in the Guiana Shield. We present an update on the taxonomy of Loricaria, and discuss the biogeography and conservation status of the new species. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Within the Loricariidae, members of the subfamily Loricariinae are united by a long and depressed caudal peduncle and by the absence of an adipose fin, but they exhibit substantial variation in body shape, lip morphology and dentition. There are currently 220 valid species of Loricariinae, distributed in 30 genera ( Covain & Fisch-Muller, 2007;Fichberg & Chamon, 2008;Ghazzi, 2008;Ingenito et al., 2008;Rapp Py-Daniel & Fichberg, 2008;Rodriguez & Miquelarena, 2008;Thomas & Rapp Py-Daniel, 2008;de Carvalho Paixão & Toledo-Piza, 2009;Thomas & Sabaj Pérez, 2010). The evolutionary history of the Loricariinae has been only recently explored by Covain et al. (2008), who proposed the first molecular phylogeny of the subfamily and assessed the phylogenetic dependence of the morphological traits classically used as diagnostic features. ...
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A cytogenetic analysis of Loricaria cataphracta revealed a diploid number of 2n = 64 chromosomes, distributed as 12 metacentric + 8 submetacentric + 2 subtelocentric + 42 acrocentric, with a fundamental number of 86. Analysis of the nucleolus organizing region (NOR) using silver nitrate impregnation and fluorescence in situ hybridization (18S rDNA probe) techniques showed intra-population chromosomal polymorphism that could be classified into five different patterns (I to V), involving four pairs of chromosomes (8, 9, 12, and 13). In pattern I, the NOR was located in pair 12, whereas in pattern II, the NOR was detected in pair 8; these two patterns were characterized as a simple-NOR system. A multiple NOR system was evident in the other patterns (III, IV, and V). In pattern III, the NOR was located in only one of the homologs of pairs 12 and 8, and in patterns IV and V, the NOR was observed in pair 12 and in only one of the homologs of pairs 9 and 13, respectively. In addition, C-band analysis also showed this pattern of variation, and characterized a polymorphism in relation to the constitutive heterochromatin; the composition of this region was GC-rich (positive CMA3) and 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole negative. Transposition of NOR sites for mobile elements is suggested to explain this polymorphism.
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Apteronotus camposdapazi, new species, from the Rio Tocantins basin, Goiás state, Brazil, is diagnosed by the presence of a white or yellow band on the chin, the dorsal surface of the head and mid-dorsum extending to the beginning of the origin of the mid-sagittal electroreceptive filament; two lights bands on the caudal peduncle throughout ontogeny; and a light brown band on the mid-lateral portion of the body.
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The subfamily Loricariinae belongs to the Neotropical mailed catfish family Loricariidae. Members of Loricariinae are recognized by their long and flattened caudal peduncle and absence of an adipose fin. Despite important studies con- ducted on this group, no comprehensive generic key is presently available. A Hill & Smith (1976) analysis and cluster analysis were performed on external morphological characters taken from specimens or borrowed from the literature. The two main groups recognized correspond to the tribes Harttiini and Loricariini. Within the Loricariini, four morpho- logical groups were found: the Rineloricaria group, the Loricariichthys group, the Loricaria group, and the Pseudohemi- odon group. Results of these analyses were used to construct a practical key to thirty genera, followed by a synopsis for each genus.
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As espécies recentes de Doras são diagnosticas, no presente estudo, entre os Doradidae pela exclusiva combinação de barbilhão maxilar longos e fimbriados; mesetmóide com margens anteriores convergindo em uma ponta afilada; fontanela craniana única, contida entre os frontais e anteriormente no mesetmóide (fontanela posterior fechada); placa nucal anterior larga, pentagonal ou quase hexagonal, suturada lateralmente ao epioccipital, e isolando o supraoccipital da placa nucal mediana; forame nucal ausente; processo posterior do coracóide curto, extremidade posterior anterior à extremidade do processo pós-cleitral; dentário com dentes aciculares. Uma espécie fóssil, †D. dioneae, e duas espécies nominais recentes, D. carinatus e D. micropoeus, são reconhecidas como válidas e redescritas. Além destas, três espécies recentes, D. phlyzakion, D. higuchii e D. zuanoni, são descritas como novas do médio rio Amazonas e tributários, baixo rio Amazonas e tributários e do rio Araguaia (drenagem do rio Tocantins), respectivamente. Doras phlyzakion e D. zuanoni formam um grupo monofilético encontrado em terras baixas, ambientes lênticos, e caracterizado pelos múltiplos poros na pele do peito e abdômen, um caráter exclusivo entre doradídeos e raro, se não único entre todos os siluriformes. As demais espécies recentes, D. carinatus, D. higuchii e D. micropoeus, de relações incertas, são encontradas em terras altas, e ambientes lóticos. A ocorrência de D. carinatus na bacia do rio Orinoco sugere uma ligação histórica entre os tributários da margem direita do baixo rio Orinoco (e.g., Caroni) que drenam o oeste do Escudo Guianense e rios mais a leste (e.g., Cuyuni-Essequibo) que drenam os Escudo diretamente para o oceano Atlânico. Uma chave de identificação para as espécies recentes de Doras é fornecida, um neótipo para Silurus cariantus Linnaeus, 1766 é designado, e Mormyopsis Miranda Ribeiro, 1911 é considerado sinônimo júnior de Doras Lacepède, 1803.
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Three new species of Loricaria are described from large white- and black-water river channels of the Amazon basin of Brazil, the upper rio Negro drainage of southern Venezuela, and clear waters of the lower rio Tocantins. Loricaria spinulifera and L. pumila differ from other species of Loricaria by having unique patterns of abdominal plate development and hypertrophied odontodes forming conspicuous crests on dorsal surfaces of the head and predorsal plates. Both are small species of Loricaria, reaching sexual maturity at less than 120 mm SL, and exhibiting sexually dimorphic characters consistent with members of the L. cataphracta complex. Loricaria spinulifera differs from L. pumila in having a unique arrangement of buccal papillae and large thorn-like odontodes on the dorsum of the head. Loricaria pumila is the smallest known Loricaria, reaching sexual maturity at less than 80 mm SL. Loricaria lundbergi differs from other Loricaria by having a unique abdominal plate pattern, broad head, and small basicaudal plate. Loricaria lundbergi is sympatric with L. spinulifera in the lower rio Negro drainage, but is also known from the rio Baria system of the Casiquiare drainage. Loricaria pumila occurs in the lower rio Amazonas and lower rio Tocantins. All three new species exhibit varying degrees of reduction in eye size and pigmentation seen in other fishes inhabiting deep river channels of South America.
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Many North American stream fishes have a similar color pattern of four dark saddles against a light background. An interesting feature of the pattern, in addition to its widespread taxonomic distribution, is its consistent configuration. The interval between the first and second saddle is usually the largest, and the last (third) interval is the smallest. All saddled North American freshwater fishes live on uneven, rocky substrates, and nearly all live in flowing water. It is hypothesized that these fishes achieve crypsis through disruptive coloration; the light spaces between the saddles mimic rocks and the dark saddles appear as shadows or gaps between rocks. Saddles are spaced unevenly because rocks in streams are a mixture of sizes; a fish that mimics a series of rocks of similar sizes is more conspicuous than one that mimics rocks of different sizes. The placement of saddles was measured on five North American species. In four of five North American species measured (a sculpin and three darters), the longest spaces are towards the head where the body is also the widest, this is thought to enhance crypsis because pieces of gravel tend to be round or square. In the madtom, the saddle pattern tends more towards even spacing. The madtom may not rely on camouflage to the same extent as other species examined because of decreased predation pressure associated with being nocturnal and possessing sharp spines and venom glands.
The genus Otocinclus Cope (1872) of the siluriform family Loricariidae is diagnosed as monophyletic on the basis of shared derived characters of the cranial and hyobranchial skeleton, dorsal gill arch musculature, and gut. Otocinclus are relatively small herbivorous catfishes restricted to small streams and quiet slow-flowing margins of larger rivers, most frequently living in close association with aquatic macrophytes and terrestrial marginal grasses extending into the water column. Otocinclus species share a novel modification of the distal esophageal wall which is developed into an accessory blind diverticulum that may function in aerial respiration and for providing additional modulatory positive buoyancy for remaining in the upper water column at stream margins. Otocinclus has no junior synonyms, however several nominal species originally described in Otocinclus are here formally re-assigned to other genera in the subfamily Hypoptopomatinae. Otocinclus cephalacanthus Ribeiro 1911, O. depressicauda Ribeiro 1918, O. francirochai Ihering 1928, O. laevior Cope 1894, O. leptochilus Cope 1894, O. maculipinnis Regan 1904, O. nigricauda Boulenger 1891, and O. paulinus Regan 1908 are all placed in the genus Microlepidogaster Eigenmann & Eigenmann 1889; O. obtusos Ribeiro 1911 was placed in Pseudotothyris Britski & Garavello 1984; the genus Nannoptopoma Schaefer 1996 was erected for O. spectabilis Eigenmann 1914 in the tribe Hypoptopomatini; O. gibbosus Ribeiro 1908 is removed from Otocinclus, yet remains of undetermined generic status. Thirteen species are recognized in Otocinclus: O. affinis Steindachner 1877 of the lower Paraná/Paraguay and Uruguay basins and coastal streams of southeastern Brazil; O. bororo n. sp. of the upper Río Paraguay; O. caxarari n. sp. of the middle Río Guaporé/Mamoré system; O. flexilis Cope 1894 of the lower Paraná/Paraguay and Uruguay basins and coastal streams of southeastern Brazil; O. hasemani Steindachner 1915 of northern Brazil; O. hoppei Ribeiro 1939 of the upper Amazon, Tocantins and Paraguay basins and coastal streams of northeastern Brazil; O. huaorani n. sp. of the upper Amazon and Orinoco basins; O. macrospilus Eigenmann & Allen 1942 of the upper Amazon basin of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru; O. mariae Fowler 1940 of the lower Amazon, upper Madeira and Paraguay basins; O. mura n. sp. of the middle Amazon River; O. vestitus Cope 1872 of the upper Amazon and lower Paraná basins; O. vittatus Regan 1904 of the Amazon, Orinoco, Paraná/Paraguay, and Tocantins basins; and O. xakriaba n. sp. of the rio São Fransisco basin. Two species are placed in synonymy: Otocinclus arnoldi Regan 1909 and O. fimbriatus Cope 1894 are junior synonyms of O. flexilis. Keys to the species of Otocinclus and genera of the Hypoptopomatinae are provided. A descriptive treatment of the osteology and cranial myology is provided for O. vittatus. Detailed analysis of meristic and morphometric variation based on geometric morphometric procedures is provided for the phenetically similar species pairs O. mariae and O. vittatus, O. bororo and O. huaorani in an a posteriori evaluation of separate species status. The phylogenetic relationships among Otocinclus species, and the phylogenetic position of Otocinclus among genera of the Hypoptopomatinae, are determined based on analysis of 27 morphological features using cladistic parsimony. Monophyly of Otocinclus was confirmed; within Otocinclus, a clade comprised of O. affinis and O. flexilis is the sister-group to the remainder of the genus. Within that latter clade, O. hasemani and O. xakriaba are the first and second-level sister-groups to the remainder of the genus, within which relationships among species are not fully resolved with available data. The phylogenetic biogeography of Otocinclus is informative regarding the historical relationships among major river drainage basins, particularly of those river systems of the Brazilian Shield. A biogeographic hypothesis is proposed based on the area cladogram derived from the species-level phylogenetic relationships, which suggests successive vicariance and speciation in the non-Amazonian regions of endemism of southeastern and eastern South America, followed by speciation and dispersal within the Amazon, Orinoco and upper Paraguay basins. The pattern of vicariance revealed by the Otocinclus species-level phylogeny is congruent with the geologic history of the major river drainage basins of the Brazilian Shield. This result suggests that, for Otocinclus and perhaps other loricariid catfishes, much of their generic and species-level diversification occurred prior to the formation of the Amazon basin.