Skip to main content
Log in

Taxonomic review of the Neomerinthe bucephalus species group (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae), with description of a new species from Vanuatu

  • Monograph
  • Published:
Ichthyological Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


A taxonomic review of five scorpaenid nominal species included in the Neomerinthe bucephalus species group [Neomerinthe amplisquamiceps (Fowler 1938), Neomerinthe bucephalus (Alcock 1896), Neomerinthe kaufmani (Herre 1952), Neomerinthe megalepis (Fowler 1938), and Neomerinthe procurva Chen 1981], characterized by a lateral lacrimal spine, recognized four to be valid (N. amplisquamiceps, N. bucephalus, N. kaufmani, and N. megalepis), with N. procurva regarded as a junior synonym of N. bucephalus. A lectotype was designated for N. bucephalus in this study. The valid species, supported by a molecular analysis based on the mitochondrial marker Cytochrome c Oxidase subunit I, can also be identified from combinations of the following characteristics: numbers of pectoral-fin rays, scale rows in the longitudinal series, scale rows below the lateral line, and scale rows between the sixth dorsal-fin spine and lateral line, eleventh dorsal-fin spine length, caudal-peduncle length and depth, and body coloration. In addition, the new species Neomerinthe harenartis is described based on four specimens collected from Vanuatu. This species, also bearing a lateral lacrimal spine, is distinguished from other Indo-Pacific Neomerinthe by having 19 pectoral-fin rays, 47 or 48 scale rows in the longitudinal series, 6 or 7 scale rows above the lateral line, and body depth 31.0–32.8% of SL, and lacking a second preopercular spine. A key to species in the N. bucephalus species group is given.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Alcock AW (1896) Natural history notes from H.M. Indian marine survey steamer ‘Investigator’, Commander C.F. Oldham, R.N., commanding. Series II. No. 23. A supplementary list of the marine fishes of India, with descriptions of two new genera and eight new species. J Asiat Soc Bengal 65:301–338

    Google Scholar 

  • Alcock AW (1898) Fishes, part 5. Illustrations of the zoology of the Royal Indian marine surveying steamer Investigator. Trustees of the Indian Museum, Calcutta

  • Bloch ME (1787) Naturgeschichte der ausländischen fische. Vol. 3. Auf Kosten des Verfassers und in Commission in der Buchhandlung der Realschule, Berlin

  • Chen LC (1981) Scorpaenid fishes of Taiwan. Quart J Taiwan Mus 34:1–60

    Google Scholar 

  • Chen QC, Cai YZ, Ma XM (eds) (1997) Fishes from Nansha Islands to South China coastal waters 1. Science Press, Beijing

    Google Scholar 

  • Felsenstein J (1981) Evolutionary tree from DNA sequences: a maximum likelihood approach. J Mol Evol 17:368–376

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fowler HW (1935) Description of a new scorpaenoid fish (Neomerinthe hemingwayi) from of New Jersey. Proc Acad Nat Sci Phila 87:41–43

    Google Scholar 

  • Fowler HW (1938) Descriptions of new fishes obtained by the United States Bureau of Fisheries steamer “Albatross”, chiefly in Philippine seas and adjacent waters. Proc U S Natl Mus 85:31–135

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fricke R (2015) Twenty-one new records of fish species (Teleostei) from Madang and Papua New Guinea (western Pacific Ocean). Mar Biodivers Rec 8:e70

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fricke R, Teitelbaum A, Wantiez L (2015) Twenty-one new records of fish species (Teleostei) from the New Caledonian EEZ (south-western Pacific Ocean). Mar Biodivers Rec 8:e123

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fricke R, Allen G, Amon D, Andréfouët S, Chen WJ, Kinch J, Mana R, Russell B, Tully D, White WT (2019) Checklist of the marine and estuarine fishes of New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea, western Pacific Ocean, with 810 new records. Zootaxa 4588:1–360

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gilbert CH (1905) II. The deep-sea fishes of the Hawaiian Islands. In: Jordan DS and Evermann BW. The aquatic resources of the Hawaiian Islands. Bull U S Fish Comm 23:577–713, pls 66–101

  • Gloerfelt-Tarp T, Kailola PJ (1984) Trawled fishes of southern Indonesia and northwestern Australia. Australian Development Assistance Bureau, Canberra, Directorate General of Fisheries, Jakarta, and German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Eschborn

  • Herre AWCT (1952) A review of the scorpaenoid fishes of the Philippines and adjacent seas. Philipp J Sci 80:381–482

    Google Scholar 

  • Ivanova NV, Zemlak TS, Hanner RH, Hebert PDN (2007) Universal primer cocktails for fish DNA barcoding. Mol Ecol Notes 7:544–548

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kimura M (1980) A simple method for estimating evolutionary rates of base substitutions through comparative studies of nucleotide sequences. J Mol Evol 16:111–120

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kumar S, Stecher G, Li M, Knyaz C, Tamura K (2018) MEGA X: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis across computing platforms. Mol Biol Evol 35:1547–1549

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Matsubara K (1943) Studies on the scorpaenoid fishes of Japan. Anatomy, phylogeny and taxonomy (II). Trans Sigenkagaku Kenkyusyo 2:171–486

    Google Scholar 

  • Matsubara K (1955) Fish morphology and hierarchy, part II. Ishizaki-shoten, Tokyo

  • Mohsin AKM, Ambak MA (1996) Marine fishes and fisheries of Malaysia and neighbouring countries. Universiti Pertanian Malaysia Press, Serdang

    Google Scholar 

  • Motomura H (2004a) New species of scorpionfish, Scorpaena cocosensis (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae) from the Cocos Islands, Costa Rica, eastern Pacifc Ocean. Copeia 2004:818–824

  • Motomura H (2004b) Revision of the scorpionfish genus Neosebastes (Scorpaeniformes: Neosebastidae) with descriptions of five new species. Indo-Pac Fish 37:1–75

  • Motomura H (2009) Sebastapistes taeniophrys (Fowler, 1943): a valid scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae) from the Philippines. Ichthyol Res 56:62–68

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Motomura H (2011) Scorpaenidae. In: Matsunuma M, Motomura H, Matsuura K, Shazili NAMS, Ambak MA (eds) Fishes of Terengganu—east coast of Malay Peninsula, Malaysia. National Museum of Nature and Science, Tsukuba, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu, and Kagoshima University Museum, Kagoshima, pp 64−65

  • Motomura H (2013) Scorpaenidae. In: Yoshida T, Motomura H, Mushikasinthorn P, Matsuura K (eds) Fishes of northern Gulf of Thailand. National Museum of Nature and Science, Tsukuba, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, and Kagoshima University Museum, Kagoshima, pp 77−80

  • Motomura H (2019) Scorpaenidae. In: Koeda K, Ho HC (eds) Fishes of southern Taiwan. National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium, Pingtung, pp 506−531

  • Motomura H (2023) List of Japan’s all fish species. Current standard Japanese and scientific names of all fish species recorded from Japanese waters. Online version 19, updated 3 March 2023. Html. Accessed 11 March 2023

  • Motomura H, Ishikawa S (2013) Fish collection building and procedures manual, English edn. The Kagoshima University Museum, Kagoshima and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto

    Google Scholar 

  • Motomura H, Senou H (2009) New records of the dwarf scorpionfish, Sebastapistes fowleri (Actinopterygii: Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae), from East Asia, and notes on Australian records of the species. Species Divers 14:1–8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Motomura H, Last PR, Yearsley GK (2005a) Scorpaena bulacephala, a new species of scorpionfish (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae) from the northern Tasman Sea. Zootaxa 1043:17–32

  • Motomura H, Paulin CD, Stewart AL (2005b) First records of Scorpaena onaria (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae) from the southwestern Pacific Ocean, and comparisons with the Northern Hemisphere population. N Z J Mar Freshwater Res 39:865–880

  • Motomura H, Last PR, Yearsley GK (2006) New species of shallow water scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae: Scorpaena) from the central coast of Western Australia. Copeia 2006:360–369

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Motomura H, Béarez P, Causse R (2011) Review of Indo-Pacific specimens of the subfamily Scorpaeninae (Scorpaenidae), deposited in the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, with description of a new species of Neomerinthe. Cybium 35:55–73

    Google Scholar 

  • Motomura H, Causse R, Struthers CD (2012) Phenacoscorpius longilineatus, a new species of deepwater scorpionfish from the southwestern Pacific Ocean and the first records of Phenacoscorpius adenensis from the Pacific Ocean (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae). Species Divers 17:151–160

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Motomura H, Aizawa M, Endo H (2014) Sebastapistes perplexa, a new species of scorpionfish (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae) from Japan. Species Divers 19:133–139

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Motomura H, Causse R, Béarez P, Mishra SS (2015) Redescription of the Indo-West Pacific scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae), Neomerinthe erostris (Alcock 1896), a senior synonym of Scorpaena gibbifrons Fowler 1938, N. rotunda Chen 1981, and N. bathyperimensis Zajonz & Klausewitz 2002. Zootaxa 4021:529–540

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Motomura H, Causse R, Béarez P (2016) Validity of a poorly known western Pacific scorpionfish (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae), Neomerinthe pallidimacula (Fowler, 1938). Cybium 40:109–113

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakabo T (1993) Scorpaenidae. In: Nakabo T (ed) Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species, first edition. Tokai University Press, Tokyo, pp 683–705, 1939–1946

  • Naranji MK, Fricke R, Netto-Ferreira AL, Velamala G (2020) New record and range extension of the Orange Scorpionfish, Neomerinthe amplisquamiceps (Scorpaenidae), in the coastal waters of Visakhapatnam, India. Thalassas 36:399–404

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Poss SG (1999) Scorpaenidae. Scorpionfishes (also, lionfishes, rockfishes, stingfishes, stonefishes, and waspfishes). In: Carpenter KE, Niem VH (eds) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the western central Pacific. Vol. 4. Bony fishes part 2 (Mugilidae to Carangidae). FAO, Rome, pp 2291–2352

  • Poss SG, Duhamel G (1991) Neomerinthe bauchotae, a new scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae) from St. Paul and Amsterdam islands (southern Indian Ocean), with comments on the limits of the genus. Cybium 15:93–102

    Google Scholar 

  • Ray D, Mohapatra A (2015) First record of scorpionfish genus Neomerinthe Fowler, 1935 (Actinopterygii: Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae) from Indian coast. Indian J Geomarine Sci 44:1224–1228

    Google Scholar 

  • Sabaj MH (2020) Codes for natural history collections in ichthyology and herpetology. Copeia 108:593–669

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sainsbury KJ, Kailola PJ, Leyland GG (1984) Continental shelf fishes of northern and north-western Australia. Clouston & Hall and Peter Pownall Fisheries Information Service, Canberra

  • Sauvage HE (1882) Description de quelques poissons de la collection du Muséum d'histoire naturelle. Bull Soc Philomath Paris (ser 7) 6:168–176

  • Streets TH (1877) Contributions to the natural history of the Hawaiian and Fanning Islands and Lower California, made in connection with the United States North Pacific Surveying Expedition, 1873–75. Bull U S Natl Mus 7:1–172

    Google Scholar 

  • Thompson JD, Higgins DG, Gibson TJ (1994) CLUSTAL W: improving the sensitivity of progressive multiple sequence alignment through sequence weighting, positions-specific gap penalties and weight matrix choice. Nucleic Acids Res 22:4673–4680

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Wibowo K, Motomura H (2021) Review of Indo-Pacific species of the scorpionfish genus Scorpaena (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae), with descriptions of two new species from the west coast of Australia. Ichthyol Res.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zajonz U, Klausewitz W (2002) Neomerinthe bathyperimensis sp. nov. from deep waters of the southern Red Sea. J Fish Biol 61:1481–1488

    Google Scholar 

Download references


We are especially grateful to M. McGrouther, A. Hay, S. Reader, and K. Parkinson (AMS), H. Endo (BSKU), D. Catania (CAS), A. Graham, J. Pogonoski and W. White (CSIRO), F. Tashiro (HUMZ), P. Pruvost, R. Causse, Z. Gabsi, J. Pfliger, and P. Béarez (MNHN), H.-C. Ho (NMMB), C. Pollmann, A. Palandacic, B. Riedel, N. Bogutskaya, and E. Mikschi (NMV), M. Nakae and K. Fujiwara (NSMT), J. Johnson (QM), R. Bills, E. Heemstra, O. Gon and M. Dwani (SAIAB), T. Yoshino and K. Miyamoto (URM/OCF), J. Williams, L. Palmer, S. Raredon K. Murphy and D. Pitassy (USNM), S. S. Mishra (ZSI), and H. Wada (ZUMT) for specimen loans; N. Muto (Kitasato University) for assistance with molecular analysis; K. Wibowo (Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense, Bogor, Indonesia) gave advice on measuring, and B. Jeong (KAUM), helpful advice on writing the manuscript; volunteers, graduates and students of KAUM collected specimens and gave curatorial assistance; N. Nakayama (BSKU) gave valuable comments on the manuscript; and G. Hardy (Ngunguru, New Zealand) read the manuscript and provided help with English. The second author (HM) is grateful to P. Pruvost, Z. Gabsi, and C. Ferrara (MNHN) for their kind help during his visits to Paris in 2010–2015, supported by the Muséum National d′Histoire Naturelle. This study was conducted under a Memorandum of Agreement for joint research made by and among the Department of Agriculture of the Republic of the Philippines (DA), the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV), the Kagoshima University Museum, the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, and Tokai University, facilitated by S. L. Sanchez [Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), DA]. P. J. Alcala (DA) provided a Prior Informed Consent Certificate, and I. P. Cabacaba and S. M. S. Nolasco (BFAR, DA) provided a fish specimen Export Certificate (No. 2016-39812). We thank the staff of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension, UPV, and UPV Museum of Natural Sciences, College of Fisheries, UPV, including R. P. Babaran, S. S. Garibay, U. B. Alama, V. G. Urbina, L. H. Mooc, C. J. N. Rubido, E. P. Abunal, A. M. T. Guzman, R. S. Cruz, A. C. Gaje, and R. F. M. Traifalgar, and graduate students of the College of Fisheries, UPV for their support of this research collaboration. Malaysian specimens were collected during the JSPS (the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan) Asian Core Program, “Establishment of Research and Education Network on Coastal Marine Science in Southeast Asia”, and the JSPS Core-to-Core Program: B Asia-Africa Science Platforms, supported by the Ministry of Higher Education (Government of Malaysia), University Putra Malaysia, and University Malaysia Terengganu. This study was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers 20H03311 and 21H03651; the JSPS Core-to-core CREPSUM JPJSCCB20200009; and the “Establishment of Glocal Research and Education Network in the Amami Islands” project of Kagoshima University, adopted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan. This research is part of a dissertation by the first author. All authors agree with the article publication and dissertation submission.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tatsuya Matsumoto.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics approval

Not applicable.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This article was registered in the Official Registry of Zoological Nomenclature (ZooBank) as 160EF3F5-9D44-438C-9288-E5FB944BFEC6.

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.

Supplementary Information

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (XLSX 13 KB)

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Matsumoto, T., Motomura, H. Taxonomic review of the Neomerinthe bucephalus species group (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae), with description of a new species from Vanuatu. Ichthyol Res 71, 13–39 (2024).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: