Holotype, Serrasalmo irridopsis,Plate image 9 Cope 1872 OPEFE EDUCATIONAL USE ONLYWELCOME TO OPEFE ARCHIVES


Serrasalmo iridopsis

Cope (E. D.), Sp. Nov. 1872

CURRENT STATUS: Uncertain as Serrasalmus humeralis Valenciennes 1850

February 6, 2015; Some changes based on my opinion regarding this species vs S. odyssei and S. sanchezi









November 12, 2011

J. Gery historically has had problems with the number of species in South America. He said there were only 12 species of piranha in the entire continent of South America (Machado-Allison and Fink 1996 Los Peces Caribes de Venezuela). I believe (in my opinion) he got it wrong with S. iridopsis.


Below are the descriptions and reasoning Gery used to place this species as a synonym of S. humeralis:



S. sanchezi sp. nov., qu'on pourrait presque qualifier d'<<espèce jumelle>> de S. spilopleura, est caractérisé par un ensemble de données: aucune autre espèce de Serrasalmus ne possède à la fois (a) des dents palatines rudimentaires, (b) un sous– orbitaire presque entier, et (c) des serrae très nombreuses. Par élimination, on est amené à en faire une espèce nouvelle, tout en regrettant d'encombrer un genre déjà bien difficile.


English: Discussion; S. sanchezi sp. nov., that one almost could qualify <<juvenile species>> of S. spilopleura, is characterized by body spotting: no other type of Serrasalmus does not possess at once (a) rudimentary palatine teeth, (b) an almost entire under – orbital, and (c) very numerous serrae. By elimination, one is brought to a new type, all the while regretting to clutter an already difficult genus. 

a. Les espèces à dents palatines rudimentaires (aureus, serrulatus et calmoni, type du sous-genre Pristobrycon) ont toutes un SO³ très incomplet, une bouche petite est un aspect <<discoïde>> très caractéristique.


English: a. The species have rudimentary palatine teeth (aureus, serrulatus and calmoni, type under Pristobrycon) have all a SO³ very incomplete, a small mouth is an aspect <<discoid>> Very characteristic.

b. Les espèce qui – dès la taille de 100 mm l. sd. – ont un sous–orbitaire couvrant presque toute la joue (sous–genere nominal, sauf le groupe humeralis envisagé plus haut) possèdent une rangée de dents palatines bien formées, au nombre de 7 ou 8 généralement, et toujours des serrae en nombre assez réduit: au maximum, et rarement, 37 chez S. rhombeus, et S. spilopleura.


English: b. The types that – as early as the size of 100 mm l. sd. – Have an under – orbital covering almost the whole cheek (under nominal–genera, except the group humeralis estimated higher) possess a row of Palatine teeth that are well formed, to the number of 7 or 8 generally, and always serrae in reduced numbers: to the maximum, and rarely, 37 with S. rhombeus, and S. spilopleura

c. Les seules espèces susceptibles d'avoir jusqu'à 40-42 serrae appartiennent à des sous – genre bien charactérisés et différents: S. denticulatus (souz – genre Pygopristis) et S. niger (sous - genre Taddyella); toutes deux n'ont que des affinités assez lointaines avec. S. sanchezi sp. nov.


English: c. The only known types to have 40-42 serrae belong to two genera with different characteristics: S. denticulatus (genus–type Pygopristis) and S. niger (genus-type Taddyella); all two have similar but rather distant with. S. sanchezi sp. nov. 

Fowler (1907, p.471) a examiné le type d'une troisième espèce censée avoir 41 serrae. S. iridopsis COPE, et n'a retrouvé que 32 serrae; cette espèce est par ailleurs très mal définie, mais présence de dents palatines bien formées suffirait à la distinguer de la nouvelle espèce.


English: Fowler (1907, p. 471) examined the type of a third supposed type to have 41 serrae. S. iridopsis COPE, and rediscovered only 32 serrae; this type besides very poorly defined, but presence of palatine ones well formed teeth would suffice to distinguish it new type 

Enfin S, humeralis, dont le type a 39 serrae et qui pourrait aussi être rapproché de S. sanchezi en raison de la forme de la tête, s'en distinque nettement par les dents palatines bien formées (8 dents de chaque côté), le sous - orbitaire tronqué et l'habitus, sa dorsale n'étant que très légèrement en arrière du milieur du corps (cf. GÉRY, 1963 b).


English: At last S. humeralis, of which the type has 39 serrae and that also could be come close to S. sanchezi because of the form of the head, itself in distinct clearly by the Palatine ones well formed teeth (8 every side teeth), the type-truncated orbital and the habitus (= body), the dorsal being only very lightly behind middle of the body (cf. GÉRY, 1963 b). 


This species was made a questionable synonym of S. humeralis  (Jegu in Reis et al., 2003:19).


Gery as noted above, had trouble telling the difference between S. spilopleura and his new species S. sanchezi. As Cope description is far more accurate in describing S. iridopsis. There have been sufficient imports of S. sanchezi that a competent authority could review and make a final decision. Even today, some Systematician have problems in visually telling S. spilopleura from this one. Even though advanced hobbyists have not had very much issues with it. S. humeralis is another problem species. Majority of photographs seen of this species, whether wild caught from fishing photos or in the aquarium, appear to fit the description of S. manueli (Venezuela). Yet, some photographs from Guyana show a species that does not even look close to S. humeralis except in the original description minus the humeral blemish.


Indeed most historical authors have put S. humeralis as a Pristobrycon type VIEW species page.




iridopsis, Serrasalmo Cope [E. D.] 1872:268, Pl. 9 (fig. 2)

Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 1906 Henry W. Fowler, page 471 states the following:


Serrasalmo iridopsis Cope, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1871 (1872), p. 268.
PI. 9, fig. 2. Type, No. 7,913, A. N. S. P. Ambyiacu River, Equador.
John Hauxwell.

Width of head 2J in its length; interorbital space 3J, measured from tip of snout. Body compressed. Head well compressed and robust. Snout convex, and its length § its width. Teeth well developed in jaws, those on mandible |^|, large. Each palatine with 7 teeth. Tongue rather narrow, rounded in front and free. Interorbital space broad and convex. Bones of head all more or less radiately striate. Gill-opening forward to middle of eye. Rakers iv + v short denticles, much shorter than filaments, which equal greatest exposed opercular width. Color in alcohol brownish, sides silvered. Back with a number of rounded maculations, ranging in size up to that of pupil, and fading out on flanks. Fins all pale brownish, dorsal and caudal a trifle more deep in shade marginally. Iris pale brassy. Length 4£ inches (caudal damaged).

Although Cope states that the abdominal serratures are'' forty-one,'' his figure would indicate altogether but 31. Still as the type at present shows 32 serrae, it is possible that some of those on the breast may have fallen.

After reviewing the description, image and locality, it is my belief that this species is valid. The species best fits the description of juvenile Serrasalmus sanchezi  (Gery, 1964) rio Ucayali, Peru. According to David M. Schleser who has caught these fish regularly in Peru, the fish frequent pure whitewater or mixed black and white water. Never in pure blackwater. David also mentioned that S. sanchezi are a more purplish color in the Orosa River. This description also fits S. iridopsis. His S. sanchezi image (below) in the Schleser book was caught in dark water where blackwater flows over mud deposited by the Amazon flooding in high water season. During this high water, this part of the rio Orosa is whitewater from Amazons flooding back into it  The species S. sanchezi also have a vermillion flush over the throat and opercule. Very bright shimmering scales far more than other Serrasalmus. Often, this species is confused for P. nattereri because of its red throat.


This last line of the description further convinces me the author Cope is describing S. sanchezi: This brilliant species is especially peculiar in the number of its abdomino-thoracic dentations. The number of serrae for S. sanchezi (40-42) also falls into S. iridopsis description.


Further, I recommend that S. iridopsis be made a synonym to S. sanchezi or with S. odyssei which is a better described species. Only recently has it been discovered that S. odyssei may be present in Peruvian waters sympatric with S. sanchezi.


S. sanchezi, approx. 6.0 cm TL OPEFE USE ONLY

Serrasalmus sanchezi juvenile

Photo property of Natures Image, Inc. David M. Schleser OPEFE USE ONLY

Serrasalmus sanchezi adult Photo David M. Schleser, Natures Image


Comparison image of S. odyssei (Bolivia and S. sp (Peru)

Comparison image of S. odyssei (top) and Serrasalmus sp. collected as S. humeralis.



iridopsis, Serrasalmo Cope [E. D.] 1872:268, Pl. 9 (fig. 2) [Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia v. 23; Río Ambyiacu, Peru. Holotype (unique): ANSP 7913. Type catalog: Böhlke 1984:49. •Questionably a synonym of Serrasalmus humeralis Valenciennes 1850 -- (Jégu in Reis et al. 2003:19. Current status: Uncertain as Serrasalmus humeralis Valenciennes 1850. Serrasalmidae.



D. 15-6; A. 34; abdominal spines prominent, forty-one. Depth of body one-half length without caudal fin; length head a little greater than one-third the same. Orbit 3.8 in head, a little less than interorbital space. Ventral fin originating opposite front of dorsal; not reaching vent; pectoral reaching ventral. Bones of head striate. Caudal fin openly emarginate. Color pale fawn-color above, below silvery; four longitudinal series of round black spots above lateral line; several scattered spots below it. Opercular apparatus brilliantly colored; upper part of preoperculum and orbital bones green; middle golden, lower part purple and violet. Operculum purple above; vermilion below; interoperculum vermillion; anal fin the same; caudal brown, edged with pale yellow centre.


Total length .104m.; to dorsal .0535; to ventral .0475; to anal .0615; to caudal .084.


This brilliant species is especially peculiar in the number of its abdomino-thoracic dentations.


From the Ambyiacu



Questionably a synonym of Serrasalmus humeralis Valenciennes 1850




Río Ambyiacu, Peru.








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