Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
The genus Haploblepharus Garman 1913 ZBK is a little known group of small to medium-sized catsharks (family Scyliorhinidae Gill 1862) endemic to southern Africa and ranging along the coasts of Namibia and South Africa.
Three species of Haploblepharus ZBK are currently recognised (Human, 2003, in prep.), H. edwardsii (Schinz 1822) , H. pictus ( Mueller & Henle 1838) , and H. fuscus Smith 1950 ZBK . Species identification of this group has been historically problematic and stems from the use of colour patterns and poor morphological characters in species identification keys.
Under the name of H. edwardsii , Bass et al. (1975) illustrated a female Haploblepharus ZBK specimen taken from kwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, that they referred to as the “Natal” form, as opposed to the better known and more abundant “Cape” form from the south coast of South Africa. Bass et al. found the two forms to be morphologically identical, differing only in colour pattern, but suggested that they might represent separate species on the basis of different habitats and allopatric distribution. Springer (1979), in his review of the Scyliorhinidae, apparently considered the “Natal” form as a colour variant of H. edwardsii . Compagno (1984b, 1988) and Compagno et al. (1989) discussed the alternates of the two forms being regional colour variants or separate species without choosing an alternative, while Compagno (1999), Compagno & Human (2003), Compagno et al. (2005) and Human et al. (2006) considered the “Natal” form as an undescribed species. In the current study, and as part of a revision of the genus Haploblepharus ZBK (Human, 2003, in prep.), we show that the “Natal” form of Bass et al. (1975) differs significantly from H. edwardsii in morphological characters in addition to its colour pattern and warrants the rank of species.