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History of The Genus Pterophyllum - Species Timeline

Year: Specie: Author: Type: Current Name:
1823 Zeus
Hinrich Martin Lichtenstein (type unknown; possibly ZMB 1347
is part of the type series 
P. scalare
Comments: IThe first angelfish ever described. It was collected in "Brazil" and apparently deposited in the Berlin Museum. *Although the type specimen is not recorded, Kullander states it could be the same specimen recorded by Cuvier & Valenciennes
References: The Species of Angelfishes by Burgess
Guide to South American Cichlidae by Dr. Sven O. Kullander
1831 Platax
Cuvier & Valenciennes (Holotype, ZMB 1347, ca 44 mm
SL. No collecting data
P. scalare
Comments: ICuvier or Valenciennes found a specimen there in the Berlin Museum labeled Zeus scalaris and was probably unaware that Lichtenstein had already published its description. They therefore described it as new, kept the specific name scalaris, but decided that it was in the wrong genus, naming it Platax ? scalaris. They apparently were not satisfied with placing it in the genus Platax (hence the question mark) and thought that when it became better known (the specimen was in a "mutilated" condition and only an incomplete description could be given) a new genus could be erected for it.
References: The Species of Angelfishes by Burgess
Guide to South American Cichlidae by Dr. Sven O. Kullander
1840 Pterophyllum scalaris Heckel  (type by monotypy Platax scalaris Cuvier) P. scalare
Comments: IViennese ichthyologist Johann Jacob Heckel was able to see additional specimens from the Rio Negro. He called the new genus Pterophyllum (meaning fins like leaves), which included at that time the single species Pterophyllum scalaris.
References: The Species of Angelfishes by Burgess
1855 Plataxo´des dumerilii Castelnau (type by monotypy Plataxo´des dumerilii Castelnau) P. scalare
Comments: ICastelnau describes a new genus and species of this same type fish, calling it Plataxo´des dumerilii, seemingly unaware of the fish described by Cuvier and Valenciennes. *It is important to understand the meaning of "type fish." Nomenclature terminology refers to this phrase as "type specimen" meaning "any specimen of the type series.
References: The Species of Angelfishes by Burgess
Guide to South American Cichlidae by Dr. Sven O. Kullander
1862 Pterophyllum GŘnther Synonymizes all the currently described type specimens under one genus.
Comments: GŘnther, in his Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum (Natural History), simplified everything by synonymizing Plataxoides with Pterophyllum and placing all the species thus far described (Platax scalaris, Pterophyllum scalaris, and Plataxoides dumerilii, but not Zeus scalaris of which he was probably unaware) under the slightly modified name Pterophyllum scalare. There were then either one (P. scalare) or two (P. scalare and P. dumerilii) species of angelfishes depending upon whether one agreed with GŘnther or not.
References: The Species of Angelfishes by Burgess
1903 Pterophyllum Altum Pellegrin (type by syntypes) P. altum
Comments: In 1903, Pellegrin described another new specie found from the upper Orinoco in Venezuela. This is the largest and deepest-bodied of the angels.
References: Most books
Guide to South American Cichlidae by Dr. Sven O. Kullander
1928 Pterophyllum Eimekei Ahl (type by syntypes) P. scalare
Comments: About 1927, and angelfish called Zwergscalare (dwarf scalare) appeared in Germany; this fish had been imported from the Amazon. The importer's name was Eimeke, and in 1928 Dr. Ahl of the Berlin Museum described the fish as a new species, naming it Pterophyllum eimekei in honor of the importer. The P. eimekei was based on only 5 examples from the mouth of the Rio Negro in the Amazon.
References: ANGELFISH by Wilfred Whitern published by T.F.H 1956
Aqualog IV
Guide to South American Cichlidae by Dr. Sven O. Kullander
1956 Review Schultz (N/A P. scalare
Comments: Dr Leonard P. Schultz publishes his review of the genus, but the literature does not record Castelnau's P. dumerilii, nor is the date of the review listed. Schultz concludes that there are three valid species, P. scalare, P. eimekei, and P. altum.
References: ANGELFISH by Wilfred Whitern published by T.F.H 1956
1963 Plataxoides Leopoldi Gosse (type by Holotype) P. leopoldi
Comments: The most recent species described, Plataxoides leopoldi was placed in Castelnau's genus because Gosse believed that the name Pterophyllum was preoccupied by a genus of insects.
References: Most books
Guide to South American Cichlidae by Dr. Sven O. Kullander
1967 Review Schultz N/A  
Comments: Schultz reviewed the genus again. This time he includes the P. dumerilii and the newly described specie P. leopoldi. He examined the holotype of P. dumerilii and the paratypes of P. leopoldi and concluded that they are one and the same species. Comparisons of P. scalare specimens with those of P. eimekei led Schultz to consider the latter species a synonym of the former. The remaining species, P. altum, he considered valid although casting some doubt on this decision.
References: The Species of Angelfishes by Burgess
1976 Review Burgess N/A  
Comments: Burgess compared the meristic differences between both species (P. altum and P. scalare) and considered the differing lengths of the fins as geographical variants of the Rio Negro and Orinoco species. And as a result of this classification, he synonymized P. altum and P. scalare. This result was based on Schultz's meristic data from his 1967 paper. Burgess concludes that there are only two valid species, P. scalare and P. dumerilii. But P. scalare is considered here to consist of two subspecies, P. scalare scalare from the Amazon and Guyana and P. scalare altum from the Orinoco and Rio Negro.
References: Aqualog IV
The Species of Angelfishes Burgess
1979 Review Burgess N/A  
Comments: Burgess recognizes the Orinoco-endemic fish (altum) as a local (Orinoco) variant, and thus classified it as a subspecies of P. scalare.
References: Aqualog IV
1986 Review Kullander N/A  
Comments: The latest review of the genus was in 1986 by Dr. Sven Kullander of the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. Kullander concluded that Pterophyllum eimekei and P. dumerilii were junior synonyms of Lichtenstein's P. scalare, but that P. altum and P. leopoldi were valid and distinct species. Species level systematics is problematic. There may be more species than the three now considered valid. The type locality of P. scalare (Lichtenstein) (eastern Brazil) is imprecise, and there may be no type specimen preserved of that species.
References: Guide to South American Cichlidae by Dr. Sven O. Kullander
Aqualog IV
Pterophyllum Altum - Pellegrin 1903
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