Polypterus mokelembembe, Ulrich K. Schliewen & Frank Schäfer, 2006

Ulrich K. Schliewen & Frank Schäfer, 2006, Polypterus mokelembembe, a new species of bichir from the central Congo River basin (Actinopterygii: Cladistia: Polypteridae)., Zootaxa 1129, pp. 23-36 : 33

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Polypterus mokelembembe

new species

[[ Polypterus mokelembembe   ZBK , new species]]

Discussion. With the description of Polypterus mokelembembe   ZBK the number of currently valid Polypterus   ZBK species and subspecies is increased to 13. Following inspection of hundreds of living Polypterus   ZBK specimens that were commercially imported into Germany, Schäfer (2004), in his popular account on bichirs, recognized several more phenotypes within both the P. palmas   ZBK and P. bichir   ZBK complexes ( P. ansorgii   ZBK , P. lapradei   ZBK , P. congicus   ZBK are included in the latter group), which may well represent additional new species. This information, together with our cursory inspection of the large Polypterus   ZBK collection in MRAC and preliminary molecular genetic data (Schliewen, unpubl.) suggest that a revision of Polypterus   ZBK is overdue. We agree with Britz (2004) that such a revision should logically employ more novel characters than previously employed in Polypterus   ZBK taxonomy.

Polypterus mokelembembe   ZBK has previously been identified as P. retropinnis   ZBK , probably because of its high predorsal scale count, which separates these two species from most other Polypterus   ZBK in central Africa. According to meristic data provided by Hanssens et al (1995) and Britz (2004), the only other Polypterus   ZBK species with a comparatively high predorsal scale count are Polypterus teugelsi   ZBK and Polypterus palmas palmas (of which Polypterus lowei Boulenger, 1911   ZBK , described from Liberia, is a junior synonym [Gosse 1988]). Steindachner (1912, 1913) reported eight specimens of Polypterus lowei   ZBK from the River Dja, which were discussed by Poll (1942: 298) and Gosse (1988: 244), neither of whom saw the specimens. We have confirmed Poll´s (1942) identification as Polypterus retropinnis   ZBK after having seen seven of the reported eight specimens (NMW 63247 [2], NMW 63248 [1], NMW 63249 [2], NMW 63250 [2]). However, the smallest specimen in lot NMW 63250 is Polypterus palmas polli Gosse, 1988 .