The giant that is not a giant

A brand new paper has been published on Marine Biodiversity Records by Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Tethys’ founder and Vice-President, yielding some surprises about the devil rays of the Mediterranean.

The giant devil ray Mobula mobular (Bonnaterre, 1788) is not giant, but it is the only spinetail devil ray

Abstract: Mobula mobular, a mobulid species once considered a Mediterranean Sea endemic, has received its common name “giant devil ray” based on repeated misidentifications of oceanic manta rays, Mobula birostris, that had strayed into the Mediterranean, where they had never been reported from before. Based on the maximum known size (350 cm disc width) of M. mobular, when compared to some of its congenerics, the giant devil ray is not giant at all. A recent revision of the phylogeny and taxonomy of genus Mobula, which included, amongst other things, the decision to consider the circumtropical spinetail devil ray M. japanica a junior synonym of M. mobular, has caused the latter species to become circumglobal, and the only known mobulid with a tail spine. As a consequence, it is here recommended that the common name of M. mobular be “spinetail devil ray”.

Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. Marine Biodiversity Records (2020) 13:4