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Hiding in broad daylight: Molecular and morphological data reveal a new ocean sunfish species (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae) that has eluded recognition

Nyegaard, M., Sawai, E., Gemmell, N., Gillum, J., Loneragan, N.R., Yamanoue, Y. and Stewart, A.L (2017) Hiding in broad daylight: Molecular and morphological data reveal a new ocean sunfish species (Tetraodontiformes: Molidae) that has eluded recognition. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 182 (3). pp. 631-658.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx040
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Abstract

The taxonomy of the ocean sunfishes (Molidae) has a complicated history. Currently, three genera and four species are recognized, including two in the genus Mola (M. mola and M. ramsayi). In 2009, a genetic study revealed a potential third species, Mola species C, in Southeast Australian waters. Concentrating on this region, we obtained samples and morphological data from 27 Mola sp. C specimens, genetically confirmed the existence of this species (mtDNA D-loop and cytochrome c oxidase 1), and established its morphology across a size spectrum of 50–242 cm total length. Mola sp. C is diagnosed by clavus meristics [15–17 fin rays (13–15 principal, 2 minor), 5–7 ossicles, paraxial ossicles separate], clavus morphology (prominent smooth band back-fold, rounded clavus edge with an indent), and body scale morphology (raised conical midpoints, non-branching). This species does not develop a protruding snout, or swollen dorso- or ventrolateral ridges. Body proportions remain similar with growth. A review of the historic literature revealed that Mola sp. C is a new, hitherto undescribed species, M. tecta, which we describe and diagnose, and that it is the first proposed addition to the genus Mola in 125 years. Its core distribution is likely in the temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc
Copyright: © 2018 Oxford University Press
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/40626
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