The sigmodontine rodent Oecomys catherinae has been recognized as a species complex that includes five different lineages distributed throughout Brazil south of the Amazon river, named in literature according to their geographic position (central, eastern, northern, western, and westernmost). The western lineage also has been referred as Oecomys aff. catherinae in the literature, because it may represent a distinct species. Herein, we used molecular and morphological data to investigate the possible species distinctiveness within the O. catherinae complex. From molecular analyses, we recovered the western lineage as a monophyletic group with high genetic divergence from the other lineages of the complex. This lineage can be differentiated from other lineages of the O. catherinae complex and other congeners through a combination of mensural and morphological characters that includes: smaller size; posterior margin of nasals usually surpassing the maxillary–frontal suture; supraorbital crest moderately developed, similar to the temporal crest; parietal slightly expanded laterally; subsquamosal fenestra present; alisphenoid strut absent; and anterior cingulum of M1 present. The western lineage occurs in the southern Amazonia, in sympatry with the westernmost lineage and other species of Oecomys. Herein we describe this lineage as a new species, increasing to 19 the number of species within Oecomys.
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Vol. 102 • No. 1