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Polypterus palmas

Scientific name: Polypterus palmas   (Ayres, 1850)

Synonym(s): Polypterus palmas palmas   (Ayres, 1850), Polypterus palmas buettikoferi   (Steindachner, 1891), Polypterus lowei   

Common name(s): Shortfin bichir, dinosaur eel

Picture of Polypterus palmas, Shortfin bichir

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Origin:West Africa: Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

Max reported size (SL): 298mm (12")

Description: The dorsal area in front of the dorsal finlets has irregular small spots. The ventral surface has a uniform lighter colouration. The pectoral fins are usually spotted. The membranes of the dorsal finlets have contrasting light and dark colouration. 7-9 dorsal spines are present.

Comments: There has long been some confusion with respect to the identity of species within the P. palmas complex, with some types being designated as subspecies for many years, but now considered variants or separate species.

Main Reference:

Hanssens, M.M., G.G.Teugels, D.F.E.Thys Van den Audenaerde (1995): Subspecies in the Polypterus palmas complex (Brachiopterygii; Polypteridae) from West and Central Africa. Copeia 1995 (3): 694-705.

Timo Moritz and Ralf Britz (2019): Revision of the extant Polypteridae (Actinopterygii: Cladistia). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters. IEF-1094: 1-96