Papers/Abstracts

Description of a new subfamily, genus and species of a freshwater atherinid, Bleheratherina pierucciae (Pisces: Atherinidae) from New Caledonia

Aarn and Walter Ivantsoff

aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 13-28, Volume 15, Issue 1 – 15 January 2009

Abstract

Bleheratherina pierucciae is described from Tontouta (26°56.9’S 166°14’E) and Pirogues Rivers, New Caledonia. The new species has been compared with other Indo-Pacific atherinids, both freshwater and marine (representatives of genera Atherinason, Atherinomorus, Atherinosoma, Atherion, Craterocephalus, Hypoatherina, Kestratherina, Leptatherina and Stenatherina) and an atherionid (Atherion). Dyer & Chernoff’s (1996) division of Atherinidae into three subfamilies has been briefly reviewed and a fourth subfamily, Bleheratherininae, is now added to this list since the new species is distinct and different from all known atherinids. Bleheratherina pierucciae can be immediately recognised by the unusual structure of its mouthparts. Other distinct osteological characters confirm that it merits a subfamilial status. The evolutionary history of this new species must have commonality with the Australian coastal and marine fishes, having probably been derived from a common ancestor likely to have occurred in a marine environment i.e. Arafura Sea. The zoogeographic events, which led to the separation of New Caledonia from Australia and its emergence as a separate island, post Palaeocene, must have led to a divergence of the ancestral fauna which invaded the freshwaters of New Caledonia.

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