155 pages, 78 b/w photos, b/w illustrations, and b/w distribution maps; 4 tables
The systematics of the African family Malapteruridae (electric catfishes) has been examined. External and selected internal characters are employed to delineate and diagnose 2 genera, encompassing 19 species (fourteen of the latter are new to science).
Malapterurus is composed of relatively large species (adults usually 15 cm – 1 m SL), which can be further divided between two groups. One group of 8 species (M. electricus [Gmelin], M. zambezensis n. sp., M. stayssnyae n. sp., M. teugelsi n. sp., M. beninensis Murray, M. oguensis Sauvage, M. occidentalis n. sp., M. microstoma Poll and Gosse) is characterized by having narrow oral tooth patches and pectoral fins with roughly vertical bases that are placed near the body mid-depth. The second group also comprised of 8 species (M. thysi n. sp., M. barbatus n. sp., M. punctatus n. sp., M. murrayi n. sp., M. minjiriya Sagua, M. gossei n. sp., M melanochir n. sp., M. polli n. sp.) shows broader oral tooth patches, and pectoral fins lower on the body, with roughly horizontal bases.
The second genus, Paradoxoglanis n. gen., consists of 3 species (P. caudivittatus n. sp., P. parvus n. sp., P. cryptus n. sp.). These are much smaller than species of Malapterurus (mature adults as small as 6 cm SL), and have a three-chambered swim bladder (this structure is two-chambered in other electric catfishes), plus several other unique meristic or morphological features. There is no single malapterurid species with a vast, ’Pan-African’ distribution, as has previously been suspected. In fact, distributions of the 19 electric catfishes show patterns that are congruent with patterns resolved for numerous other African freshwater fishes.
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