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Description of a new cryptic species of tonguefish (Pleuronectiformes: Cynoglossidae: Symphurus) from shallow waters off Japan


Symphurus longirostris, a new, cryptic tonguefish, was discovered by combining evidence from both morphological characters and the genetic divergence data of partial sequences of the 16S rRNA and COI genes. This dwarf species, reaching sizes to 65.5 mm standard length (SL), is described from 37 specimens collected from shallow waters around southern and central Japan. Compared with congeners, S. longirostris shares many morphological similarities with those of S. microrhynchus, S. holothuriae, and several undescribed species that are morphologically similar to S. microrhynchus. Symphurus longirostris differs from all congeners by the following combination of characters: a predominant 1–2–2–2–2 ID pattern; 12 caudal-fin rays; 9 abdominal vertebrae; 45–48 total vertebrae; four hypurals; 81–88 dorsal-fin rays; 68–74 anal-fin rays; 56–66 longitudinal scale rows; 21–26 transverse scales; 11–14 scale rows on the head posterior to lower orbit; a well-developed fleshy ridge on the ocular-side lower jaw; a membrane covering both eyes that is continuous with the anterior nostril; distinct spots present in the dermis at the bases of the anterior dorsal- and anal-fin rays; the dorsalmost aspect of the peritoneum bluish black; the upper head lobe larger than lower head lobe; relatively short lengths of the head (HL 20.5–22.6 % of SL) and postorbital region (POL 13.0–14.9 % of SL); relatively long snout (SNL 18.7–24.4 % of HL); and relatively long predorsal length (PDL 23.8–32.7 % of HL) compared with corresponding features in S. microrhynchus and S. holothuriae. Analysis of morphological and molecular features in this description of S. longirostris will also help to clarify the status of the poorly known species, S. microrhynchus and S. holothuriae. This study is the beginning of a taxonomic revision of shallow-water species of Symphurus from the Indo-West Pacific.

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The authors express their appreciation to K.-T. Shao (BRCAS) for funding support for molecular analyses and for funding M.-Y. Lee for museum visits conducted during this study. L.-P. Lin (ASIZP), G. Shinohara (NSMT), J. Clayton (USNM), and L. Willis (NSL) assisted with loan, cataloguing, and shipment of specimens; H. Endo, N. Nakayama, R. Asaoka, and T. Naito (BSKU) provided assistance and support during M.-Y. Lee’s visit to their institution. The authors also thank H. Endo, N. Nakayama, R. Asaoka, and T. Naito (BSKU) for providing many preserved specimens from Japanese waters, which provided us with better understanding of the intraspecific morphological variation in these fishes. Special thanks also go to Y. Ogura, the captain of R/V Ryokuyo-maru, for help in collecting specimens. C.-H. Chang (BRCAS) provided useful comments about molecular aspects of this study. M.-Y. Lee extends his appreciation to J. Maclaine (BMNH) and R. de Ruiter (RMNH) who provided great assistance and hospitality during M.-Y. Lee’s visit to their institutions to re-examine type specimens. Also, M.-Y. Lee extends his appreciation and gratitude to members of the Laboratory of Fish Ecology and Evolution for their support and assistance during this study.

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Correspondence to Mao-Ying Lee.

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This article was registered in the Official Register of Zoological Nomenclature (ZooBank) as A90B2220-9757-4524-A540-9585EDC03A17.

This article was published as an Online First article on the online publication date shown on this page. The article should be cited by using the doi number.

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Lee, MY., Munroe, T.A. & Kai, Y. Description of a new cryptic species of tonguefish (Pleuronectiformes: Cynoglossidae: Symphurus) from shallow waters off Japan. Ichthyol Res 64, 71–83 (2017).

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