While it seems to me that common mammal species are usually distinct enough that there isn't much trouble in accurately defining and identifying a specific species, for example of a deer, I see that with fishes there are often a whole lot of very similar species with close to none differences between them.

How can an individual specimen be authoritatively assigned to a specific species, is there an authoritative catalogue of features that one can look up to be able to say with certainty is an examined specimen of a certain species or not?

For example in the family Scaridae there are species Chlorurus bleekeri, Chlorurus bowersi, Chlorurus gibbus, Chlorurus frontalis, Chlorurus gibbus, Chlorurus japanensis, Chlorurus perspicillatus, Chlorurus strongylocephalus, Chlorurus troschelii which are all kinds of parrotfish very minor differences if I look at photos on FishBase.

How did anyone even decide these are distinct species of fish, instead of varieties of the same species, and then is there a central authority where newly defined species like this are described in enough detail for future occurrences to match with the same species name?


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