Body naked; wide interorbital; one pair of long barbels on lower jaw at corner of mouth; single dorsal with anterior portion submerged under the skin, with 13 spines and 28 soft rays; anal fin with 36 rays; pelvic fin with 3 soft rays; all fin rays unbranched; teeth absent on vomer and palatines; branchiostegal rays seven; radials two; postcleithrum and pleural ribs absent; vertebrae 49.
Except for the elongate barbels and the caudal fin being joined with the dorsal and anal fins, the one known specimen (from 1,650 m) superficially looks like a Psychrolutes. The family was established with the description of the one species. Its phylogenetic position within the Cottoidei is uncertain. One species, Bathylutichthys taranetzi
Superfamily Cyclopteroidea. Pelvic fins, when present, modified into a sucking disc, thoracic; lateral line usually absent; gill opening small. Able et al. (1984) describe larval characters and present comparative information on the two included taxa, the lumpfishes and the snailfishes.
Lumpfishes and snailfishes are thought to form a monophyletic group, and I previously (Nelson, 1984) expressed this view by recognizing both in the one family, Cyclopteridae. However, most workers have recognized snailfishes in their own family, and this is followed here with monophyly of the group being expressed by the recognition of the superfamily Cyclopteroidea.
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