Pezichthys, Last & Gledhill Csiro, 2009

Last, Peter R. & Gledhill Csiro, Daniel C., 2009, A revision of the Australian handfishes (Lophiiformes: Brachionichthyidae), with descriptions of three new genera and nine new species 2252, Zootaxa 2252 (1), pp. 1-77 : 33-34

publication ID 10.11646/zootaxa.2252.1.1

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gen. nov.

Pezichthys gen. nov.

Type species. Pezichthys amplispinus sp. nov. (by original designation)

Definition. Pezichthys is unique among brachionichthyids in having the following combination of features: body depth relatively deep, 32–48% SL at second dorsal-fin origin; head variably compressed and large, length 49–55% SL; caudal peduncle short to long, 4–11% SL; illicium short and stout to very slender and long (1.9–3.5 in head length), 1–9 times length of esca; skin surface very rough, almost completely covered with small spiny scales; spinules mainly bifurcate, upright, originating near middle of scale bases; scale bases stellate or subcircular, and embedded but spinules divided well above skin surface; dermal appendages present or absent (usually confined to arm of pectoral-fin); lacking wart-like protuberances; sensory scales variably demarcated; body coloration simple, with fine markings or with a floral pattern; pectoral-fin rays 7; anal-fin rays 7–9 (mainly 8); vertebrae 20–22.

Etymology. A combination of the Greek pezo (walking) and ichthys (fish) in allusion to the ability of these fishes to walk on the sea floor using their hand-like pelvic fins and arm-like pectoral fins.

Species. A variable group needing further resolution and presently consisting of five new species: Pezichthys amplispinus sp. nov., P. compressus sp. nov., P. eltanini sp. nov., P. macropinnis sp. nov., and P. nigrocilium sp. nov.

FIGURE 14. Collection localities for: A. Pezichthys amplispinus sp. nov., holotype () and paratypes (•); B. P. compressus sp. nov., holotype () and paratype (); C. P. eltanini sp. nov., holotype () and paratype (); D. P. macropinnis sp. nov., holotype (); and E. P. nigrocilium sp. nov., holotype (★). Locations are approximate, and may represent multiple records.

Remarks. This possibly polyphyletic group contains a mixed suite of variably shaped species. They are unique within handfishes in having a dense coverage of upright, bifurcate (and monospinulate in Pezichthys nigrocilium ) spinules that originate near the centre of their scale bases and divide external to the skin surface. Species of Thymichthys also have a dense coverage of spiny scales but their spinules are more adpressed and originate from the posterior edges of their scale bases. Pezichthys scale bases are usually shallowly embedded and have either stellate or subcircular bases rather than deeply embedded and irregular bases as in Thymichthys and Sympterichthys . The spinules of Brachionichthys originate from the centre of each scale but are monospinulate. Pezichthys is also the only group apart from Brachionichthys whose members all have 7 pectoral-fin rays. Most of the species are plain coloured or with only a few linear markings (except P. amplispinus which has a complex but variable floral pattern). The form of the illicium, and the extent to which the sensory pores are defined and the dermal appendages are developed, vary greatly between species.

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