Friday, July 23, 2010
July 23, 2010 : Snailfish
Snailfishes are scorpaeniform marine fish of the family Liparidae. Widely distributed from the Arctic to Antarctic Oceans including the northern Pacific, the snailfish family contains approximately 23 genera and 195 species. They are closely related to the sculpins of the Cottidae family and the lumpfish of the Cyclopteridae family. Snailfish are sometimes included within the latter family.
The snailfish family is poorly studied and few specifics are known. Their elongate, tadpole-like bodies are similar in profile to the rattails. Their heads are large with small eyes; their bodies are slender to deep, tapering to a very small tail. The extensive dorsal and anal fins may merge or nearly merge with the tail fin. Snailfish are scaleless with a thin, loose gelatinous skin; some species, such as the spiny snailfish (Acantholiparis opercularis) have prickly spines as well. Their teeth are small and simple with blunt cusps. The deep-sea species have prominent, well-developed sensory pores of the head, part of the animals' lateral line system.
In October 2008, a UK-Japan team discovered a shoal of Pseudoliparis amblystomopsis at a depth of 7.7km (4.8 miles) in the Japan Trench, these are believed to be the deepest living fish ever recorded.