Centrophorus lusitanicus

White, William T., Ebert, David A. & Naylor, Gavin J. P., 2017, Revision of the genus Centrophorus (Squaliformes: Centrophoridae): Part 2 - Description of two new species of Centrophorus and clarification of the status of Centrophorus lusitanicus Barbosa d, Zootaxa 4344 (1), pp. -1--1: -1

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Centrophorus lusitanicus


Validity of Centrophorus lusitanicus 

The complicated nomenclatural history of C. lusitanicus  , as discussed above, has hindered resolution of this group of gulper sharks. When considering Barbosa du Bocage & de Brito Capello’s (1864) description of C. lusitanicus  in relation to the currently recognised species of Centrophorus  , several of the characters used to distinguish the new species from C. granulosus  [= ’uyato’] relate to the true C. granulosus  :

C. lusitanicus  is much larger

C. lusitanicus  has a blackish violet colour

• first dorsal fin base is longer in C. lusitanicus  • free rear tip of first dorsal fin more produced in C. lusitanicus  • dorsal spines shorter and weaker in C. lusitanicus  C. lusitanicus  has a shorter snout

• pectoral-fin free tip is less produced in C. lusitanicus 

These characteristics are perfectly consistent with the key diagnostic characters of true C. granulosus  . Although the original description does not mention the skin characteristic, it does mention that the name used by ‘our fisherman’ is ‘Lixa-de-lei’ which is Portuguese for sandpaper. This also points to C. granulosus  , which differs from C. ‘uyato’ in having a much rougher skin. This information together with the character information provided in the description and the associated illustration ( Fig. 1View FIGURE 1) strongly suggest that C. lusitanicus  is a synonym of the true C. granulosus  . It differs from the smaller (<1 m) Centrophorus  species with the very long first-dorsal fin base that has been referred to as C. lusitanicus  in recent literature. Based on our current understanding, three species of Centrophorus  are known to occur off Portugal, C. granulosus  , C. squamosus  and C. ‘uyato’ (e.g. Ebert et al., 2013). Barbosa du Bocage & de Brito Capello’s (1864) refers to C. squamosus  , C. granulosus  [= ‘uyato’] and their new C. lusitanicus  . Given the scope of Barbuso du Bocage & de Brito Capello’s paper, it seems unlikely that the authors would have missed this common species, thus lending more support to the claim that C. lusitanicus  is a synonym of the true C. granulosus  .

Since the authors refer to the fresh condition, the type locality from off Portugal for C. lusitanicus  is not in question. However, the surviving apparent ‘syntype’ of C. lusitanicus  has long been considered to be BMNH 1867.7.23.2 and is clearly not conspecific with the true C. granulosus  ( Fig. 2View FIGURE 2) as it has a much longer first dorsalfin base. This led to an investigation into the type status of C. lusitanicus  noting that no reference was made in the original description of C. lusitanicus  to any type specimens. Günther (1870) appears to be the first to link the name C. lusitanicus  with a specimen of the long-finned species in the British Museum, referring to a male of 29 inches in length. This corresponds to the size and sex of BMNH 1867.7.23.2 ( Fig. 2View FIGURE 2). Günther (1870) does not, however, refer to this specimen as a type, but does include the location as Portugal. In correspondence with the Natural History Museum in London, it was suggested that the type status may have been erroneously given to this specimen (J. Maclaine, pers. comm.). The jar it is placed in contains a yellow lid which was originally used to highlight an important specimen (not type status), thus it is possible someone later mistook this for being a type specimen. The original documentation of this specimen entering the Natural History Museum doesn’t mention it being a ‘type’ specimen. The specimen entered the Natural History Museum by donation from Bocage as C. granulosus  , and not as C. lusitanicus  . The final aspect which has led to much confusion is the location of the specimen as Portugal. The original ledger ( Fig. 3View FIGURE 3) includes three specimens donated from Bocage, Centrophorus crepidalbus  , C. granulosus  and Scymnodon ringens  . To the right of the first species, C. crepidalbus  , is ‘In spirit’ and ‘Portugal’. The two latter specimens have ditto marks underneath ‘In spirit’, but not underneath ‘Portugal’. Indeed no locality data was specified for either of these two specimens when they first arrived in the BMNH collection. Importantly they were never listed as from Portugal.

It could still be argued that the BMNH specimen was most likely collected from Portugal given it was donated from the Lisbon Museum by Bocage unless there was some indication or evidence of alternative collection locations. José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage (1823–1907) became the director of the Zoology of the Natural History Museum of the Polytechnic School in Lisbon in 1858 where his work consisted of acquiring and describing biological collections ( Madruga, 2013). Many of these collections were sent to Lisbon by José Alberto de Oliveira Anchieta (1832–1897) who mostly collected in the (then) African Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique ( Madruga, 2013). This information, combined with the fact that the long-finned species is well known from this part of Africa, provides reasonable evidence that the BMNH (and ZMBAbout ZMB) specimens were likely collected from The weight of the available evidence suggests that C. lusitanicus  refers to the true C. granulosus  from off Portugal and so must be considered a junior synonym of the latter species. The purported syntype of C. lusitanicus  ( BMNH 1867.7.23.2) is not a type specimen and refers to a separate long-finned species. A second Bocage specimen of the same long-finned species in the Museum für Naturkunde ( ZMBAbout ZMB 6455, Fig. 4View FIGURE 4), is likely from the same collection location as the BMNH specimen.


Museum f�r Naturkunde Berlin (Zoological Collections)