The sheepshead is a member of the porgy and seabream family (Sparidae), which is comprised of approximately 120 species distributed worldwide. The sheepshead was originally described by J.J. Walbaum in 1792 as Sparus probatocephalus. Recognizing the uniqueness of the sheepshead in comparison to other porgies, long time Smithsonian scientist Theodore Nicholas Gill erected the monotypic genus Archosargus in 1865. Today there are two valid species of Archosargus, the aforementioned A. probatocephalus (Walbaum 1792) and the sea bream, A. rhomboidalis (Linnaeus 1758). Synonyms of Archosargus probatocephalus include Sparus ovicephalus Bloch & Schneider 1801, Sargus aries Valenciennes 1830, Perca leonina Gronow 1854 and Archosargus oviceps Ginsburg 1952. A division of A. probatocephalus into three subspecies has been proposed: A. p. probatocephalus for the northern form occurring from Canada south to Cedar Key off the Florida gulf coast; A. p. oviceps in the Gulf of Mexico from St Marks, Florida to the Campeche Bank, Mexico; and A. p. aries ranging from Belize to Brazil.