Abstract

Two new species of diphyllidean cestodes of the genus Echinobothrium, each hosted by a different skate species in the Raja miraletus complex, are described. Echinobothrium mercedesae n. sp. is described from R. cf. miraletus 2 off Senegal. Echinobothrium yiae n. sp. is described from R. cf. miraletus 1 off South Africa. Both species are small worms that differ from their 29 described congeners in the combination of number of cephalic peduncle spines per column, hook formula, number and arrangement of testes, and arrangement of vitelline follicles. They are easily distinguished from one another in that whereas the vitelline follicles of E. yiae n. sp. are circumcortical, they are lateral in E. mercedesae n. sp., and also in number of cephalic peduncle spines per column (14–17 vs. 10–12). Echinobothrium yiae n. sp. is also unusual in that the cephalic peduncle spines stop short of the anterior margin of the peduncle. In addition, although the paucity of available material precluded their formal description, evidence of 2 additional new species parasitizing R. miraletus also from Senegal is presented. In combination these worms provide support for the interpretation that what is currently recognized as Raja miraletus actually consists of a complex of geographically restricted species, rather than a polymorphic species of multiple parapatric or allopatrically distributed populations. This interpretation is not only supported by previously published molecular data, but also by newly collected morphological data involving differences in the color patterns of disc ocelli among host specimens of the 3 forms available as a result of digital efforts to ensure the accuracy of host identifications, which are also presented here.

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