Wildlife & Wild Places

Suckermouth Armored Catfish: Freshwater Species of the Week

This newly discovered species of suckermouth catfish is 2.8 inches long (7 centimeters). Photo: Milton Tan


A graduate student at Auburn University has just identified a new species of suckermouth armored catfish. He made the discovery from five specimens that were collected in 2008 by DePaul University scientist Windsor Aguirre in Ecuador’s Santa Rosa River (map). Aguirre had sent them to Auburn for identification.

The Auburn scientist, Milton Tan, told National Geographic’s Christine Dell’Amore that the small fish (2.8 inches, or 7 centimeters, long) is unusual because it doesn’t have armored plates on the sides of its head, unlike related species.

Instead, it may be a “missing link” between other groups of catfish.

Tan named the fish Cordylancistrus santarosensis after its home river.

The new species is another example of the tremendous biodiversity that lurks in the world’s rivers.

See more photos of the suckermouth armored catfish.


Brian Clark Howard is a writer and editor with NationalGeographic.com. He was formerly an editor at The Daily Green and E/The Environmental Magazine and has contributed to many publications, including TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, MailOnline.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN and elsewhere. His latest book, with Kevin Shea, is Build Your Own Small Wind Power System.

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