Two new sculpins described

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Scientists have described two new species of sculpin from the Gulf slope of the southeastern United States.

The description of the Tallapoosa Sculpin, Cottus tallapoosae, and the Chattahoochee Sculpin, Cottus chattahoochee was published in a paper by David Neely, James Williams and Richard Mayden in the most recent issue of the journal Copeia.

Cottus tallapoosae is restricted to the Tallapoosa River drainage (after which the species is named), a tributary of the Mobile Basin, while C. chattahoochee is restricted to the Chattahoochee River drainage (after which the species is named), a tributary of the Apalachicola Basin.

Both new species are distinguished from other members of the genus by the combination of modally eight infraorbital canal pores, five bones in the suborbital series, reduced palatine teeth, a flexible spine and four rays in the pelvic fin, preoperculomandibular canals not fused at anterior rami of mandibles, with two pores at tip of chin, pectoral rays simple, preopercular armature well-developed with two or three spines, and dorsal fins separate.

Cottus tallapoosae differs from C. chattahoochee in having a usually incomplete lateral line, dermal prickling reduced or absent, when present generally restricted to a few scattered prickles in area along anterior part of lateral line, and narrow to moderately wide saddles.

The habitat of both the new species are clean gravel or rocky-bottomed streams with moderate to swift current.

For more information, see the paper: Neeley, DA, JD Williams and RL Mayden (2007) Two new sculpins of the genus Cottus (Teleostei: Cottidae) from rivers of eastern North America. Copeia 2007: 641"655.