Friday, March 10, 2017

[Ichthyology • 2017] Diaphenchelys dalmatian • A New Species of the Genus Diaphenchelys (Anguilliformes: Muraenidae) from Thailand

Diaphenchelys dalmatian  
Hibino, Satapoomin & Kimura, 2017

A new species of moray eel, Diaphenchelys dalmatian is described based on five specimens [289.8–503.0 mm total length (TL)] collected from the western coast of peninsular Thailand and the Gulf of Thailand. It can be easily distinguished from Diaphenchelys pelonates McCosker and Randall 2007, another species of the genus Diaphenchelys McCosker and Randall 2007, by its coloration (ground color white with brown dalmatian-like spots vs. brown with pale vermiculate pattern). The present new species also differs from D. pelonates in its longer tail (62.0–64.6% TL vs. 59.6–61.5%), fewer infraorbital pores along upper lip (three vs. four), fewer mandibular pores (five vs. six or seven), and fewer vertebral counts (preanal vertebrae 43–46 vs. 55–58; total 126–131 vs. 153–155). Diaphenchelys is closely similar to the genus Strophidon McClelland 1844 in the shape of neurocranium, the elongate body, low vertical fins, eye location, jaw shape, and presence of inner mandibular teeth. However, both differ in the vertebral counts (126–155 in Diaphenchelys vs. 164–208 in Strophidon) and coloration (prominent pattern vs. uniform).

Keywords: Muraenidae, Diaphenchelys, Thailand, Strophidon, Dalmatian

Fig. 1 Fresh condition of Diaphenchelys dalmatian sp. nov.
a PMBC 27945, holotype, 503.0 mm TL, off Phuket, Thailand; b THNHM-F 12483, paratype, 461.8 mm TL, off Chantha Buri Province, Thailand 

Diagnosis. A species of Diaphenchelys with the following combination of characters: tail 62.0–64.6% TL; three infraorbital pores along upper lip; five mandibular pores; ground color of body white, with numerous brown dalmatian-like spots dorsolaterally; predorsal vertebrae 6–9, preanal vertebrae 43–46 and total 126–131; MVF 7-45-128.

Distribution and ecological note. Known from the western coast of peninsular Thailand (Andaman Sea, marginal sea of the northeastern Indian Ocean) and the Gulf of Thailand. Although the collecting depth and environment of the present specimens are unclear, the holotype is strongly considered to be from the muddy bottom <100 m depth because it was collected with Gymnothorax mccoskeri Smith and Böhlke 1997, Ophichthus cephalozona (Bleeker 1864), Muraenesox cinereus (Forsskål 1775), and some apogonid and leiognathid fishes generally collected from shallow coastal water (Smith and Böhlke 1997; Allen and Erdmann 2012; Kimura 2013; Shibukawa 2013).

Etymology. The scientific name, dalmatian, is a noun in apposition, representing its similar appearance to that breed of speckled dog.

Yusuke Hibino, Ukkrit Satapoomin and Seishi Kimura. 2017. A New Species of the Genus Diaphenchelys (Anguilliformes: Muraenidae) from Thailand.
Ichthyological Research. DOI:  10.1007/s10228-017-0578-3

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