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9. Short-circuited Electric Fish

Image courtesy of James Albert

Name: Gymnotus omarorum

Common Name: Omars’ banded knifefish

Family: Gymnotidae

How it made the Top 10: This species has been locally exploited and used for several decades, “as a model species for understanding electric organ physiology and electrocommunication” (Richer-de-Forges et al. 2009).   Neurophysiologists at the Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente Estable in Montevideo, Uruguay have mistakenly referred to this species in literature as Gymnotus carapo or G. cf. carapo.  This and other species (until recently) have been lumped into G. carapo.  This highlights how little we know about biodiversity when, “a model organism” can remain undescribed for 30 years.

Reference: Richer-de-Forges, M.M., W.G.R. Crampton and J.S. Albert. 2009. A new species of Gymnotus (Gymnotiformes, Gymnotidae) from Uruguay: description of a model species in neurophysiological research. Copeia 3:538-544.

Type Material: Holotype – Zoological Vertebrate Collection-Peces, Museum of Natural History, Montevideo, Uruguay.  Paratypes – American Museum of Natural History; Zoological Vertebrate Collection-Peces, Museum of Natural History, Montevideo, Uruguay and Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul Museu de Ciências e Tecnologia, Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brasil.

Type Locality: “Uruguay, Maldonado Department, Río Cisne basin, Laguna del Sauce.”

Etymology: “Species named to honor Omar Macadar and Omar Trujillo-Cenoz, both pioneers in the anatomical and physiological study of electrogenesis in Gymnotus.”

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