Three catfish named from Central America

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The taxonomy of species of the Central American marine catfish genus Cathorops has been revised and three new species described.

Publishing the revision in the latest issue of the journal Neotropical Ichthyology, Alexandre Marceniuk and Ricardo Betancur describe Cathorops belizensis from mangrove areas in Belize, C. higuchii from shallow coastal areas and coastal rivers in the cantral American Caribbean and C. kailolae from the Usumacincta River and Lake Izabal drainages in Mexico and Guatemala.

In addition to the three new species, two previously described species (C. aguadulce from the Papaloapan River drainage in Mexico and C. melanopus from the Motagua River drainage in Guatemala and Honduras) are redescribed.

Cathorops belizensisCathorops belizensis differs from other Cathorops in having a combination of: 19"20 rakers on the first gill arch, 18-21 anal-fin rays, the posterior margin of the pectoral-fin spine with short and inconspicuous serrations, orbital diameter 3.6"4.4% standard length, interorbital distance 12.9"15.1% standard length, and dorsal-fin spine length 29.4"33.3% of the distance from the tip of the snout to the pelvic-fin origin.

The species is named after its type locality - mangrove channels in Belize City.

Cathorops higuchii by Ricardo Betancur

Cathorops higuchiiCathorops higuchii can be distinguished from other members of the genus in having a combination of: 18"21 rakers on the first gill arch, a slightly granulated head shield, and orbit diameter 11.7"18.9% of the outer mandibular barbel length.

This species is named after Horcio Higuchi, in recognition of his contribution to the taxonomy, systematics, and morphology of South American ariid catfishes.

Cathorops higuchii is common along most of the Caribbean portion of Central America, from Honduras to Panama, where it inhabits shallow coastal areas and lower portions of coastal rivers.

Cathorops kailolae by Ricardo Betancur

Cathorops kailolaeCathorops kailolae differs from other members of the genus except C. aguadulce in having a combination of: the presence of fleshy papillae intercalated with the gill rakers on the first two gill arches, 14"16 rakers on the first gill arch, and body width 17.7"19.7% standard length.

It is distinguished from C. aguadulce in having a shorter snout (6.0"8.6 vs. 9.3"11.6% standard length) and a shorter predorsal distance (33.1"38.0 vs. 39.0"40.7% standard length).

Cathorops kailolae is known from the Lake Izabal drainage in Guatemala and the Usumacincta River drainage in Mexico, and is named after Patricia Kailola for her contribution to the systematics of the Ariidae.

For more information, see the paper: Marceniuk, AP and R Betancur-R (2008) Revision of the species of the genus Cathorops (Siluriformes: Ariidae) from Mesoamerica and the Central American Caribbean, with description of three new species. Neotropical Ichthyology 6, pp. 25"44.