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Redescription of the bump-head sunfish Mola alexandrini (Ranzani 1839), senior synonym of Mola ramsayi (Giglioli 1883), with designation of a neotype for Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758) (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae)


The genus Mola of ocean sunfishes (family Molidae) is currently composed of three species: Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758), Mola ramsayi (Giglioli 1883), and Mola tecta Nyegaard et al. 2017. For a comprehensive revision of the genus, both literature survey and morphological investigations of Molidae were conducted. We found Mola alexandrini (Ranzani 1839) to be synonymous with M. ramsayi and we herein redescribe M. alexandrini based on the rediscovered dried holotype and 21 other fresh and preserved specimens. Mola alexandrini can be distinguished from other species of Mola by the following combination of characters in adults: head profile with bump; chin with bump; body scales rectangular; clavus rounded, supported by 14–24 (mode 17) clavus fin rays and 8–15 (12) ossicles on the rear margin. A neotype of M. mola is designated for comparison with M. alexandrini, as these two species have long been confused.

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We would like to thank the following persons and institutions for assistance: A. E. Ahuir-Baraja, J. Al-Mamry, J. Barker, Y. C. Chang, O. Crimmen, L. Jawad, E. Katayama, N. Katsumata, K. Koeda, K. Kofuji, S. Kortet, L. Kubicek, S. O. Kullander, Z. T. Lin, K. Mashiko, E. Mejlon, T. Mochizuki, H. Motomura, M. Nakae, T. Narazaki, C. Roberts, B. Sabelli, K. Sagara, K. Sato, D. Scaravelli, G. Shinohara, A. Stewart, C. Struthers, T. Trnski, T. Umeki, Y. Watanabe, Y. Yabumoto, T. Yanagimoto, Y. Yoshita, the crew of the RV Yayoi and staff of the International Coastal Research Center at the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute at the University of Tokyo, and the fishermen operating the Otsuchi Bay, Funakoshi Bay and Dong Chung set-net fishery. We are deeply grateful to K. Matsuura for his support and helpful advice while writing the manuscript. The research was supported by the Sasakawa Scientific Research Grant from The Japan Science Society (23-512, 24-506 and 25-504); the Home for Innovative Researchers and Academic Knowledge Users (HIRAKU) at Hiroshima University; Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI) from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (Nos. 22770079 and 25840134); and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd Core Funded Coasts and Oceans Programme 2: Biological Resources subcontract for fundamental knowledge of marine fish biodiversity with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

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Correspondence to Etsuro Sawai.

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This article was registered in the Official Register of Zoological Nomenclature (ZooBank) as 1F41C1A5-A2E5-404A-AD04-2DA5715AA5F2.

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Sawai, E., Yamanoue, Y., Nyegaard, M. et al. Redescription of the bump-head sunfish Mola alexandrini (Ranzani 1839), senior synonym of Mola ramsayi (Giglioli 1883), with designation of a neotype for Mola mola (Linnaeus 1758) (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae). Ichthyol Res 65, 142–160 (2018).

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  • Morphology
  • Neotype
  • Ocean sunfish
  • Redescription
  • Synonymy