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DescriptionFor all measurements and counts see Table 1. Body robust and tadpole-like from dorsal and ventral views. Head depth (maximum body depth) 20% SL. First dorsal fin with two soft spines, comparatively low, length of its base very short. Second dorsal fin with 27 rays and very high, its dorsal profile not concave and without a prominent elevated anterior lobe. Longest second dorsal fin rays (1st to 7th) very soft, sinuous distally and branched from about mid-length. Anal fin with 18 fleshy rays. Left and right pectoral fins with 20 rays. Pelvic fin not long, fleshy and notably wide (almost as wide as long). Posterior margin of caudal fin sharply rounded. Eye filling orbit, snout rounded in dorsal view. Lower jaw moderately protruding (distance between tip of lower jaw and tip of upper jaw 1.9% SL or 4.8% of head length) with weakly visible anterior teeth on symphysis and hidden top of tongue when mouth closed. Posttemporal ridges not prominent. Both oral valves anteriorly possess sparsely distributed short and simple papillae; inner margins of both lips fringed. Mental barbel (Fig. 2b) small and short, its length about 9% of head length, somewhat rounded distally, reaching anterior edge of orbit in backward extended mode over snout with mouth closed. Barbel base about 21% as wide as long. Proximal part of stem covered by sparsely distributed short papillae; median part of stem covered by sparsely distributed elongated papillae; distal part of stem covered by densely distributed flattened and acute-angled processes. Terminal expansion short, ovaloid and barely wider than stalk (width about 3.2 mm or 12% of barbel length, depth about 2.8 mm or 10% of barbel length), composed of scale-like, mostly bluntly palmate (resembling cat’s paw) processes; bifurcated, truncate and serrated processes also occur. Teeth on both jaws sharp and conical, slightly curved inwards, somewhat enlarged on tips of jaws in posterior rows, somewhat larger on upper jaw; up to five irregular rows at symphyses of lower and upper jaws. Gill rakers short, denticulate, slightly laterally compressed or conical; in total 19 rakers on first arch: 1+0+9=10 in anterior series and 0+1+8=9 in posterior series; rakers on lower part of gill-arch distributed along entire length of ceratobranchial bone. Lateral line system. Upper lateral line with 25 (left) and 26 (right) pores (tubular scales), middle lateral line with about 14 (left) and 15 (right) pores and tubular scales. Number of pores in cephalic sensory canals: preoperculo-mandibular 9/9; infraorbital 7/7; supraorbital 4/4, with 2/2 nasal and 2/2 interorbital pores; coronal commissure with 1 central pore; temporal 6/6; supratemporal 2, disrupted at middle, with 1 left and 1 right pores. Radiograph. Total vertebrae 38: 16 abdominal and 22 caudal. Coloration. In live specimen general ground coloration of upper and lateral surfaces of head, upper jaw, back and lateral trunk sandy-pale. Bases of pectoral fins uniformly dark-brown. Abdominal surface of body lacking evident dark spots or markings: belly generally dark brown with some lighter indistinct areas and longitudinal zigzag-like striations, Breast lighter than belly, lower surface of head light. Dorsal and lateral surface of head anterior to first dorsal fin, back and lateral parts of trunk covered by dark-brown, specific irregular (not rounded) markings − vermiculations and spots, markings covering up to 50% of upper surface of head anterior to first dorsal fin. Spotted skin extends over dorsal parts of eyes. Nostrils unpigmented. Upper jaw mostly spotted, posterior tips of maxillaries and angle of mouth uniformly white. Mandibular oral valve whitish to somewhat light brownish, maxillar oral valve whitish. Fringes on inner margins of both lips and oral cavity overall whitish. Mental barbel indistinctly bicolored dorsally: with brownish stem and bicolored, whitish and brownish, scale-like processes on terminal expansion, ventral surface of stem lighter. Soft spines in first dorsal fin whitish, fin-fold blackish basally and light-bluish distally. Second dorsal fin generally black in anterior third with partly bluish fin-fold sectors along first to third and sixth-seventh rays, and dark basally with light upper margin posteriorly. Anal and pelvic fins light, somewhat pinkish (fleshy), without the contrasting (dark-light) vertical bicolored pigmentation typical of most congeners. Pectoral fins with about six to seven narrow dark vertical stripes anteriorly, distal third of fins light. Caudal fin with creamy-pinkish (fleshy) ground coloration, dark very basally and in median superior part more evident in three upper branched rays, with about six indistinct dark vertical stripes medially. Gill chamber light, somewhat light-brownish. Peritoneum creamy white, with very sparsely distributed black dots. In formalin-preserved specimen general features of pigmentation remain unchanged except for bluish and pinkish coloration on fins being faded.