Boschung, Herbert T. Formerly, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Last reviewed:July 2015
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- Melamphaidae (bigscale fishes or ridgeheads)
- Stephanoberycidae (pricklefishes)
- Gibberichthyidae (gibberfishes)
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- Additional Readings
An order of rare deep-sea pelagic fishes containing the bigscales (ridgeheads), pricklefishes, and gibberfishes. The order Stephanoberyciformes belongs to the class Actinopterygii (the ray-finned fishes) and comprises 4 families (Melamphaidae, Stephanoberycidae, Gibberichthyidae, and Hispidoberycidae), 11 genera, and approximately 68 described species. However, the interrelationships of the taxa that are placed within it have been debated among ichthyologists, with some authorities assigning the whalefishes (order Cetomimiformes) to the order Stephanoberyciformes. Members of the Stephanoberyciformes are defined by the following characteristics: a pelvic girdle that is attached to the cleithrum or coracoid; a skull bone that is usually exceptionally thin (fragile bones are often characteristic of pelagic fishes); an absence of a subocular shelf; a supramaxilla that is absent or reduced; and a body shape that is variable, from elongate to short and rounded. As a group, the biology of the members of the Stephanoberyciformes is poorly understood, and many species are known from only a few specimens. In general, they are small deep-water fishes; they range in total length from 2 to 18 cm (0.8 to 7.2 in.), with most being less than 10 cm (4 in.), and they occupy depths to 5300 m (17,400 ft or 3.3 mi). Several species are known to be oviparous (the assumed mode of reproduction of the entire order), with planktonic eggs and larvae. See also: Actinopterygii; Cetomimiformes; Deep-sea fauna; Osteichthyes; Teleostei
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