Copionodontines are remarkably primitive in body form, and lack many of the synapomorphies that were previously used to diagnose the family Trichomycteridae. There is little doubt that the Copionodontinae forms a monophyletic group, diagnosed by several unambiguous synapomorphies, including a unique dentition composed of spatulate teeth not seen anywhere else in the Trichomycteridae. A few characters also support the genera Copionodon and Glaphyropoma as monophyletic subunits.
Distribution and ecology
Copionodontines occur exclusively in the Chapada Diamantina; though the plateau is drained by four river basins, so far, these fish are exclusively found in drainages associated with the Paraguaçu River.
Copionodontines occupy the upper reaches of fast-flowing streams on rocky beds, often with tiny or no water flow in the dry season. Fish tend to concentrate on quiet deep pools, though some individuals lodge in narrow rock crevices in fast flowing sectors. Habitat preferences also vary according to species. Water in the upper reaches of the Chapada Diamantina is cool and usually black (tea-stained), but there are records of copionodontines in a few clear water streams as well. Usually they share their environment with few or no other fish species.
- Bichuette, Maria Elina; de Pinna, Mario César Cardoso; Trajano, Eleonora (2008). "A new species of Glaphyropoma: the first subterranean copionodontine catfish and the first occurrence of opercular odontodes in the subfamily (Siluriformes: Trichomycteridae)". Neotropical Ichthyology 6 (3): 301–306. doi:10.1590/S1679-62252008000300002.
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