The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Abstract of Publication

Arnegard, M.E., and J. Snoeks. 2001. New three-spotted cichlid species with hypertrophied lips (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from the deep waters of Lake Malawi/Nyasa, Africa. Copeia 2001 (3): 705-717.  

To date, about 330 currently recognized species have been described from the haplochromine cichlid species flock endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa. Several hundred additional species await taxonomic treatment. A new species from this flock belonging to the genus Otopharynx is described from the deep waters of Lake Malawi. This species (known from only two demersal trawls made at different localities in water 78-135 m deep) is characterized by the presence of three distinct spots that do not extend to the dorsum and by moderately stout, bicuspid oral jaw teeth in outer series, placing it in the genus Otopharynx. It is a relatively deep-bodied member of this genus that differs from all other three-spotted cichlids by its fleshy, lobed lips. The greatly hypertrophied lips in this species may serve a sensory function by acting as an enlarged substrate for the expression of numerous taste buds in a peri-oral field. Additional characters are presented that distinguish this new species from its congeners. The genus Otopharynx is not defined on the basis of synapomorphies and is likely an artificial group. Nevertheless, it is a recognizable taxon that, for the time being, serves a useful purpose in organizing members of an exceedingly complex species flock, the systematics of which is far from complete.




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