A hypothesis of phylogenetic relationships is presented for the African catfish family Mochokidae based on a maximum parsimony analysis of 93 morphological characters in 41 ingroup and 19 outgroup taxa. The analysis reveals that the Mochokidae are a monophyletic group and that Mochokus Joannis (1835), Mochokiella Howes (1980), Acanthocleithron Nichols and Griscom (1917) and Microsynodontis Boulenger (1903) are monophyletic and valid as distinct genera within the family. Synodontis Cuvier (1816) must include Hemisynodontis membranacea and Brachysynodontis batensoda to be monophyletic, which are reassigned to Synodontis herein. Chiloglanis Peters (1868) is rendered paraphyletic by nested placement of Atopochilus Sauvage (1879), Euchilichthys Boulenger (1900) and Atopodontus Friel and Vigliotta (2008), a new genus described separately in this volume. Euchilichthys is rendered paraphyletic by nested placement of Atopochilus savorgnani. The monophyly of Atopochilus could not be tested because only one species was available for study. Atopodontus is monophyletic and valid as a distinct genus. Well-supported suprageneric clades within the family include a new tribe, the Atopochilini, with Atopodontus as the sister group to a clade composed of Atopochilus and Euchilichthys. A clade composed of all suckermouthed species, the redefined subfamily Chiloglanidinae, includes tribe Atopochilini nested within Chiloglanis. Taxonomic issues related to paraphyly of Chiloglanis and Euchilichthys require further research on a greater number of taxa before being addressed. Subfamily Chiloglanidinae forms a polytomy with Synodontis and Microsynodontis. Acanthocleithron, followed by Mochokiella and then Mochokus are recovered as consecutive sister groups to that polytomy. A list of synapomorphies is provided for each major clade recovered, but most clades are left unnamed at this point. A number of the well-supported clades are characterized by changes in the oral jaws and mouth, apparently a key theme in mochokid evolution. Finally, the analysis suggests that the sister group of the Mochokidae is a clade composed of the South American Doradidae plus Auchenipteridae, though support for the relationship is low. Synapomorphies supporting the recovered sister group relationship and possible synapomorphies supporting alternative sister group relationships to the Malapteruridae and Amphiliidae are provided.
New taxon: Atopochilini Vigliotta