The bluntnose knifefish genus BrachyhypopomusMago-Leccia, 1994Mago-Leccia, F. 1994. Electric fishes of the continental waters of America. Caracas, Biblioteca de la Academia de Ciencias Fisicas, Matematicas y Naturales, Caracas, 206p., is diagnosed from other Rhamphichthyoidea (Rhamphichthyidae + Hypopomidae) by the presence of a disk-like ossification in the anterior portion of the palatoquadrate, and by the following external characters: short snout, 18.7-32.6% of head length (vs. 33.3-68.6% in Hypopomus, Gymnorhamphichthys, Iracema, and Rhamphichthys), absence of a paired accessory electric organ in the mental or humeral region (vs. presence in Hypopygus and Steatogenys), presence of 3-4 pectoral proximal radials (vs. 5 in Akawaio), presence of the antorbital + infraorbital, and the preopercular cephalic lateral line canal bones (vs. absence in Racenisia). Brachyhypopomus cannot be diagnosed unambiguously from Microsternarchus or from Procerusternarchus on the basis of external characters alone. Brachyhypopomus comprises 28 species. Here we describe 15 new species, and provide redescriptions of all 13 previously described species, based on meristic, morphometric, and other morphological characters. We include notes on ecology and natural history for each species, and provide regional dichotomous keys and distribution maps, based on the examination of 12,279 specimens from 2,787 museum lots. A lectotype is designated for Brachyhypopomus pinnicaudatus (Hopkins, Comfort, Bastian & Bass, 1990Hopkins, C. D., N. C. Comfort, J. Bastian & A. H. Bass. 1990. Functional analysis of sexual dimorphism in an electric fish, Hypopomus pinnicaudatus, order Gymnotiformes. Brain Behavior and Evolution, 35: 350-367.). Brachyhypopomus species are abundant in shallow lentic and slow-flowing freshwater habitats from southern Costa Rica and northern Venezuela to Uruguay and northern Argentina. Species diversity is highest in Greater Amazonia, where 20 species occur: B. alberti, new species, B. arrayae, new species, and B. cunia, new species, in the upper rio Madeira drainage; B. batesi, new species, in the central Amazon and rio Negro; B. beebei, B. brevirostris, B. regani, new species, B. sullivani, new species, and B. walteri, widespread through the Amazon and Orinoco basins and the Guianas; B. belindae, new species, in the central Amazon basin; B. benjamini, new species, and B. verdii, new species, in the upper Amazon basin; B. bennetti, in the upper, central, and lower Amazon, lower Tocantins, and upper Madeira basins; B. bullocki in the Orinoco, Negro and Essequibo drainages; B. diazi in the Orinoco Llanos; B. flavipomus, new species, and B. hamiltoni, new species, in the central and upper Amazon basin; B. hendersoni, new species, in the central Amazon, lower Negro and Essequibo basins; B. pinnicaudatus in the central and lower Amazon, lower, upper Madeira, lower Tocantins and Mearim basins, and coastal French Guiana; and B. provenzanoi, new species, in the upper Orinoco and upper Negro basins. Five species are known from the Paraná-Paraguay-Uruguay basin and adjacent southern Atlantic drainages: B. bombilla in the lower Paraná, upper, central, and lower Paraguay, Uruguay and Patos-Mirim drainages; B. brevirostris in the upper Paraguay basin; B. draco in the lower Paraná, lower Paraguay, Uruguay, Patos-Mirim, and Tramandaí basins; B. gauderio in the lower Paraná, upper, central, and lower Paraguay, Uruguay, Patos-Mirim and Tramandaí basins; and B. walteri in the lower Paraná and upper Paraguay basins. Two species occur in small Atlantic drainages of southern Brazil: B. janeiroensis in the São João, Paraíba and small intervening drainages; and B. jureiae in the Ribeira de Iguape and Una do Prelado. One species occurs in the middle and upper São Francisco basin: B. menezesi, new species. Three species occur in trans-Andean drainages: B. diazi in Caribbean drainages of northern Venezuela; B. occidentalis in Atlantic and Pacific drainages of southern Costa Rica and Panama to Darién, and the Maracaibo, Magdalena, Sinú and Atrato drainages; and B. palenque, new species, in Pacific drainages of Ecuador.
Biogeography; Bluntnose knifefish; Electroreception; Identification key; Rhamphichthyoidea