Cocotropus microps, Johnson, 2004

Johnson, J. W., 2004, Two New Species and Two New Records of Aploactinid Fishes (Pisces: Scorpaeniformes) from Australia, Records of the Australian Museum 56, pp. 179-188 : 184-188

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Cocotropus microps

sp. nov.

Cocotropus microps View in CoL n.sp.

Patchwork velvetfish

Cocotropus sp. — Johnson, 1999: 728, fig. 2E.

Type material. HOLOTYPE: QM I.31134, 39 mm, Southport seawall, about 150 m west of entrance, 27°56'S 153°26'E, 2–4 m, J. Johnson, 29 May 1998. P ARATYPES: AMS I.41266- 014, 18 mm, Ballina , Richmond River, south wall c. 100 m west of entrance, 28°52.55'S 153°35.14'E, 0–4 m, M. GoogleMaps

McGrouther & A. Gill, 20 March 2002; AMS I.41877-001, 24 mm, Spooky Point, Angourie, large rockpool east of “Blue Pool”, 29°28.73'S 153°21.83'E, 0–1.5 m, M. McGrouther, A GoogleMaps .

Gill & J. Pogonoski, 12 December 2002.

Non-type material. AMS I.41265-098, 2: 15.5–16.1 mm, Iron Peg Point , channel on southern side, off Rocky Point Road, 28°49.36'S 153°36.36'E, 0–1.5 m, A. Gill, K. Parkinson, M. McGrouther, 20 March 2002 GoogleMaps ; AMS I.40868- 024, 19.7 mm, Chowder Bay , Sydney Harbour, end of fuel wharf on east side, 33°50.5'S 151°15.18'E, 14.4 m GoogleMaps , AMS Team, 24 May 2001 .

Diagnosis. Dorsal XII, 7; anal II, 5; pectoral 10–11; pelvic I, 3; caudal 16–17; all fin rays unbranched; vertebrae 24.

Dorsal fin with anterior, middle and posterior portions notably elevated, first interspace moderately scalloped, second deeply notched; dorsal fin membrane connected posteriorly to caudal peduncle; head, body and fins densely covered with scales, modified to form velvety prickles; a small fleshy extension on the anterior of the isthmus; frontal ridges parallel on interorbital; body and fins variously marked with pale or white blotches, or small irregular spots.

Description. Head 2.8 (2.6–2.8) in SL, moderately compressed and covered with modified scales forming velvety prickles; the latter prominent on operculum, preorbital, snout and lower surface of mandible, sparse on much of postorbital, in groove between frontal ridges and absent around nostrils. Dorsal profile of head slightly concave overall between snout tip and insertion of dorsal fin; small bump at tip of nasals, then straight to base of first dorsal spine; ascending at about 50° from horizontal. Eye 4.4 (4.1–4.5) in head. Lachrymal large, movable, with two short knob-like spines ventrally, followed by large blunt spine directed posteriorly and reaching almost to vertical from rear margin of eye. Very small blunt knob anterodorsally of first lachrymal spine base, and larger knob-like spine, subequal to second lachrymal spine, above middistance between first and second lachrymal spines. Suborbital ridge with two spines, first firm, bluntly pointed, below anterior margin of orbit; second much larger, more knob-like, centred below rear margin of pupil. Interorbital ridges distinct, but not strongly sculptured, parallel from their base at posterior tip of nasals almost to their termination at base of first dorsal spine, where they are slightly flared laterally; shallow groove in their interspace. No spines on nasals. Anterior nostril a simple tube, slightly nearer tip of snout than anterior margin of eye. Posterior nostril less prominent, an open pore with slightly raised rim, situated just anterior to horizontal from upper edge of pupil. Slightly raised pores at upper base of lachrymal, interorbital above posterior nostril, and preopercle below fourth preopercular spine. Preopercle with 4 robust blunt spines; dorsalmost largest, projecting laterally and slightly above the horizontal; others with broader tips, directed perpendicular to curve of preopercular margin, gradually reducing in length; all densely armed with well-developed knobby prickles. Opercular ridges poorly defined, surface of operculum obscured by large knobby prickles. Operculum with 2 spines, upper a low blunt point, just anterior to rear tip, second slightly smaller, short distance below on opercular margin. Dorsal tip of operculum a small free flap, received by well-developed V-shaped pit, the point of which is directed toward the sixth or seventh dorsal spine. Cleithrum with robust blunt spine. Upper and lower post-temporal spines large, broad-based, blunt and bulbous, the former not forming distinct point, latter with its tip hooked back posterolaterally; supracleithral spine posterior to and slightly below lower post-temporal, much smaller and more slender, bluntly pointed and directed toward about sixth dorsal spine. No other prominent spines on head. Ventral surface of lower jaw densely covered with numerous small knobby papillae. Each side of jaw, adjacent to ventral edge of lower lip, with 3 stubby papillae subequal in length to pupil diameter, each also covered with small knobby papillae. Two similar stubby papillae on medial edge of dentary, and one on rear of dentary posteroventral to rear tip of maxillae. Four pores along each side of dentary and a pair of pores at posterior of symphysis. Ventral edge of dentary projecting medially. Both lips densely covered in uniform knobby papillae. Maxilla broad, scaled, with a short stubby papillae just anterior to rear tip; its rear margin slightly rounded, extending to vertical through middle of eye. Both jaws with teeth in broad villiform bands, widest anteriorly, with at least 12 tooth rows at widest point, no enlarged teeth.Vomer with narrow band of minute teeth. Palatines edentulous. Tongue stout and broadly rounded. Gill rakers as low knobs, not evenly spaced, 1 (1–2) on upper limb and 5 (4–5) on lower limb of first arch. No slit behind posterior hemibranch. Branchiostegal membranes not fused to isthmus. Isthmus with fleshy extension anteriorly, slightly expanded, its free tip slightly longer than wide.

Body moderately compressed, depth 2.7 (2.7–2.9) in SL, width 7.4 (6.9–7.4) in SL, densely covered with modified scales ending in spinous points. Lateral line with 11 tubes, gently sloping posteroventrally to the midlateral, then continuing in a generally straight course to the caudal base. Tubed scales enlarged, but not armed with cirri; last scale on the caudal base. Vertebrae 24.

Dorsal fin with anterior, middle and posterior portions notably elevated; first interspace shallowly scalloped, second deeply notched. First dorsal-fin spine insertion over anterior third of eye in holotype, to posterior fourth of eye in juvenile paratype. Dorsal-fin spines strong, rigid, but not pungent; second longest, gradually decreasing in length to fifth; sixth and seventh abruptly longer, gradually shorter to the eleventh; twelfth slightly longer. First dorsal-fin ray abruptly longer than last spine, 1.7 (1.5–1.7) times its length; fourth ray longest. First 4 dorsal-fin rays with distal tips strongly curved posteriorly. Dorsal-fin membrane weakly incised, connected posteriorly to caudal peduncle less than one pupil diameter anterior to upper caudal-fin base. Anal fin with 2 soft flexible spines, first 1.4 (1.4–1.5) in length of second, second 1.6 in length of first segmented ray; fourth anal-fin ray longest; first 4 rays with distal tips strongly curved posteriorly; membranes moderately incised. Caudal fin rounded, with 16 (16–17) rays, the rays not protruding from membrane. Pectoral fin rounded, thick and fleshy, tips of median rays protruding from membrane, fourth or fifth ray longest, reaching a vertical from base of last dorsal-fin spine when adpressed. Pelvic fins with a firm but nonpungent spine and 3 fairly robust rays, second ray easily the longest, third or innermost ray shortest; longest pelvicfin ray equal in length to fourth dorsal-fin spine, reaching less than half distance to anus; pelvic-fin membrane not adnate to body. All fin rays unbranched; most fin elements and membranes variously covered with scales, modified to form velvety prickles.

Live coloration. Holotype mostly dark greyish brown on head and body, with prominent mottled patchwork of yellowish cream on body. Dorsal fin with splotches of dark greyish brown on mainly yellowish cream background, with darker areas mainly centred on elevated portions of fin, and pale areas containing some fine dark flecking. Anal fin not mottled, darker brown than remainder of body, tips of rays paler than remainder of fin. Pelvic fins light brown, with membranes slightly darker than rays. Pectoral fins mostly light brown, but with broad dusky marginal band, and narrow pale edge, including tips of individual rays. Caudal fin with similar pattern to dorsal, but with distal half of fin containing all the mottling and basal half uniformly pale. One paratype (18 mm juvenile) uniformly dusky, except for individual small pale blotches at anus, inner and outer pectoral bases, and pectoral and caudal fins. Another paratype (24 mm juvenile) similarly dusky, caudal fin with two pale blotches at its margin, but with only four very small, more inconspicuous individual white spots situated dorsally on inner pectoral fin bases, just above centre of lateral line on right side, and on anus.

Etymology. The specific name microps refers to the small, inconspicuous eyes.

Distribution. Known from six specimens collected in subtropical easternAustralia, between Southport, Queensland, and Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, in 0–14.4 m depth, among rocky substrate. Another specimen, collected in 15 m among rocky reef with some coral growth at Cook Island, New South Wales (28°12'S 153°35'E), was unavailable for this study.

Discussion. Cocotropus microps further expands the somewhat elastic concept of this genus. It is referred to the genus on the basis of its meristics, parallel interorbital ridges, presence of a fleshy extension to the isthmus, continuous dorsal fin, and type of velvety scales. This species differs most notably from its congeners in having lower dorsal- and anal-fin ray counts (XII, 7 versus XII–XV, 8–11 and II,

5 versus I–II, 6–9 respectively); dorsal fin with three distinctly elevated sections, at the front, centre and rear portions of the fin; and in coloration. Its pectoral-fin ray count 186 Records of the Australian Museum (2004) Vol. 56 25.7 mm; (b) A. leurynnis, QM I. 29200, 17 mm; (c) Xenaploactis cautes, AMS I. 24800-004, 21.9 mm.

(10–11) is low for the genus (only C. dermacanthus with 11– 13 and C. echinatus with 11 overlap), its caudal-fin ray count (16–17) is high (other species 11–16), and its vertebral count is the lowest known for the genus (24 versus 25–28).

New records for Australia

Two species of velvetfishes are recorded in Australian waters for the first time. A diagnosis is provided for the voucher material.

Acanthosphex leurynnis ( Jordan & Seale, 1905), previously known from Hong Kong, Gulf of Thailand, southeast India, Indonesia and eastern Papua New Guinea (Vidthayanon & Bettencourt, 1988; Eschmeyer, 1998; Poss, 2000), is reported from the Cumberland Group in tropical eastern Australia, Arafura Sea, NE of Goulburn Island, Northern Territory, and north of Perth, southern Western Australia ( Fig. 2a,b).

Diagnosis. Dorsal fin III, IX–X, 6–8; anal fin I–II, 6; pectoral fin 9–10, pelvic fins I, 2; lateral-line tubes 9; gill openings restricted to sides of head; preorbital armed with 2 very large posteriorly directed blunt spines, extending well beyond posterior margin of eye; preoperculum with 4 large spines, upper largest, spines gradually decreasing in length ventrally.

Material examined. QM I.29200, 17 mm SL, Repulse Bay , 20°36'S 148°44'E, beam trawl, Qld Fisheries Service, 23 March 1994 GoogleMaps ; QM I.23965, 2: 13.5–14.1 mm SL, Whitsunday Island , c. 20°15'S 148°56'E, seagrass trawl, Qld Fisheries Service, 29 March 1987 GoogleMaps ; WAM P.31618-001, 25.7 mm SL, c. 1 km off Whitfords Beach, WA, c. 31°48'S 115°43'E, 8 m, trawl, WA Fisheries GoogleMaps ; NTM S.11899-012, 9.6 mm SL, Arafura Sea , NE of Goulburn Island, Northern Territory, 10°38'S 134°00'E, 60 m, trawl, NT Fisheries, 25 April 1986 GoogleMaps .

Xenaploactis cautes Poss & Eschmeyer, 1980 , previously known only from the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand (Poss & Eschmeyer, 1980) is reported from off northwestern

Australia ( Fig. 2c) and the Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland. Based on material from the Northern Territory Museum, the record of Xenaploactis sp. from the Arafura Sea, northern Australia as reported by Russell & Houston (1989) is erroneous, and confirmed (above) as a record of Acanthosphex leurynnis ( Jordan & Seale).

Diagnosis. Dorsal fin III, XI, 7–8; anal fin I, 8; pectoral fin 14–15, pelvic fins I, 3; lateral-line tubes 10; gill-rakers 2–3+7; body depth 25.6–30.7% SL; interorbital ridges almost parallel.

Material examined. AMS I.24800-004, 21.9 mm, Northwest Shelf , 72 nautical miles NNW of Dampier, WA, 19°29'S 116°29'E, 110 m, trawl, S.J. Jenkins, 26 October 1983 GoogleMaps ; QM I.34890, 28.7 mm, Gulf of Carpentaria, Qld , 11°11'S 139°26.4'E, 50 m, dredge, J. Johnson, 28 November 1991 GoogleMaps .

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. Thanks are due to G. Lowe, formerly of the Burnett Heads Fisheries Research Centre, and M. Tonks and D. Roy at the Southern Fisheries Research Centre, for donating the type specimens of P. taenianotus and providing useful collection data. Comparative material was made available by J.B. Hutchins ( WAM), M. McGrouther ( AMS) and J. Maclaine ( BMNH). Vertebral counts from radiographs of C. masudai and the holotype of C. altipinnis were forwarded by H. Imamura ( HUMZ). Radiographs of several BMNH Cocotropus species were supplied by A.C. Gill ( BMNH). The figure of the interorbital region of Pseudopataecus was prepared by G. Thompson. Two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments that improved the manuscript.


Queensland Museum


Western Australian Museum


Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences


Hokkaido University, Laboratory of Marine Zoology














Cocotropus microps

Johnson, J. W. 2004

Cocotropus sp.

Johnson, J 1999: 728
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