Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A new slickhead: Leptoderma ospesca

The marine smelt family Alepocephalidae is perhaps better known as Slickheads or nakedheads. They are deep-water fishes living below 1,000 m. Their common name comes from the lack of scales on the head. 

Because of the depth these fishes occur and the technical challenges to find them, new discoveries are comparatively rare and always very interesting such as today's new species caught in the Pacific waters of El Salvador.

The new species name recognizes the contribution of OSPESCA (Organizaci├│n del Sector Pesquero y Ac├║icola de Centroamerica) to the discovery of deepwater marine fishes in Central America by sponsoring research cruises of the Spanish research vessel B/O Miguel Oliver.

For the experts: A new species of Leptoderma Vaillant, 1886 is described from a single specimen trawled at 1368–1406 m depth off El Salvador, Central America, tropical eastern Pacific. Leptoderma ospesca n. sp. can be readily distinguished from its congeners by the following combination of characters: dermal papillae absent along the lateral line, pectoral-fin rays 6, pelvic-fin rays 5, pre-dorsal length 54.9% of SL, both dorsal and anal fins separated from the caudal fin, dorsal- and anal-fin rays long, procurrent caudal-fin rays numerous and extending far forward on caudal peduncle, caudal-fin rays 16, and total pre-ural vertebrae 60. A key to the species of the genus is presented.

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