Neoraja iberica n. sp., a new species of pygmy skate (Elasmobranchii, Rajidae) from the southern upper slope of the Iberian Peninsula (Eastern North Atlantic)
Neoraja iberica n. sp. is described from the Portuguese and Spanish sector of the Iberian Peninsula south coast slope, based on a series of 50 type specimens representing all sizes of both sexes. This pygmy skate species was found with a maximum total length of 316 mm for females and 327 mm for males. The smallest specimens were a 55 mm neonate female and a 67 mm TL male. This new species is easily distinguished externally from four named congeners N. stehmanni, N. caerulea, N. africana and N. carolinensis by: upper side ochre to medium greyish-brown and dark greyish in ground colour with a lively ornamentation in smaller specimens of dark brown dots and spots all over disc and posterior pelvic lobes to the extreme margins, plus frequently a few pairs of whitish spots and dots on inner pectorals; 7-8 blackish cross-bars or asymmetrically paired saddle blotches along tail, which pattern fades with growth and becomes reduced in adults to a few pairs of larger dark, pale edged spots, plus mostly 1-2 pairs of the whitish dots, and cross-bars or saddle blotches along tail become less distinct; underside of disc, pelvic-fins and tail white, at most a faint greyish margin to posterior disc and pelvic lobes, but occasionally a cloud of merging brownish spots appears on each pectoral centre. A mature male specimen in poor condition of about 260 mm TL from the southern Bay of Biscay, originally identified by Vaillant (1888) as Raja fullonica Linnaeus 1758, is now reallocated to Neoraja, based mainly on features of its nearly skeletonised claspers. The similar patchy and limited distributional range of each species all along the Eastern Atlantic from off South Africa to off Scotland is briefly discussed, with four or five species occurring in the Eastern and only one species in the NW Atlantic.