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The genus Cirrhigaleus ZBK was proposed as a monotypic genus by Tanaka (1912) for a new dogfish, C. barbifer ZBK , from Japan. Soon after, Herre (1935) described another Mandarin dogfish Phaenopogon barbulifer ZBK , also based on Japanese material. Herre had overlooked Tanaka’s description but immediately synonymised his species with C. barbifer ZBK once he realised this oversight (Herre, 1936). Cirrhigaleus ZBK was synonymised with Squalus ZBK by Garman (1913), but was reinstated as a valid genus by Bigelow & Schroeder (1948, 1957). Cirrhigaleus ZBK is distinguishable from members of the closely related genus Squalus ZBK by its extremely elongated nasal barbels, similar dorsal fins, and absence of precaudal pits.
In 1973, Merrett described another distinctive dogfish, Squalus asper ZBK , from Aldabra in the western Indian Ocean. This species differed from other Squalus ZBK species in its possession of large dorsal fins of similar size, weak or absent precaudal pits, and a very short, broad head. Thus, at this stage, the only characteristic distinguishing Cirrhigaleus ZBK and Squalus ZBK was the extremely long nasal barbels of the former species. Although Bass et al. (1976) synonymised Cirrhigaleus ZBK with Squalus ZBK , Bass (1979) and Compagno (1984) retained Squalus asper ZBK and Cirrhigaleus barbifer ZBK in their respective genera, but noted their similarity. Cladistic analysis by Shirai(1992) reassigned Squalus asper ZBK in Cirrhigaleus ZBK , based largely on the similarity of their chondrocrania. Molecular studies of the family Squalidae may be required to assess the validity of this decision.
Cirrhigaleus barbifer ZBK is thought to have a sporadic distribution in the Indo -West Pacific, from southeastern Japan (Tanaka, 1912; Nakabo, 2002), Taiwan (Shen, 1993), Bali and Lombok in Indonesia (White et al. 2006), Torres Islands in Vanuatu (Fourmanoir & Rivaton, 1979), southeastern Australia (Bass, 1979), and New Zealand (Garrick & Paul, 1971; Paulin et al., 1989). However, recent examination of Cirrhigaleus ZBK specimens from Australia and Indonesia revealed that there are at least two clearly separable species involved. This paper provides a description of the new Cirrhigaleus ZBK species from Australia and provides a comparison with Indonesian and Japanese specimens.