Spinulose scales; operculum with a long, stout spine; palatine and vomerine teeth present; dorsal fin with four or five spines and 10 soft rays; anal fin with three spines and nine soft rays; pelvic fin with one spine and six or seven soft rays; lateral line scales 32-34; vertebrae 34.
One species, Hispidoberyx ambagiosus (Kotlyar, 1996, 2004d).
Superfamily Cetomimoidea (Cetunculi, Xenoberyces, in part). Complete loss of fin spines.
The taxonomic history of this group is reviewed in Nelson (1984) and Moore (1993) and references therein. The current classification follows the conclusions of Moore (1993), some of which were expressed by Rosen (1973a). In Nelson (1984) only the whalefish families Rondeletiidae, Barbourisiidae, and Cetomimidae were included in this taxon (as the suborder Cetomimoidei of Beryciformes). The added families Mirapinnidae and Megalomycteridae were placed in separate suborders of the Lampridiformes. The first three families, the whalefishes, have the following features: body whale-shaped; mouth very large and stomach highly distensible; eyes well developed to degenerate; lateral line made up of enormous hollow tubes; luminous tissue on body; dorsal and anal fins far back on body and opposite one another; no swim bladder; orbitosphenoid absent; supramaxilla absent or reduced; color usually orange and red on a black body. Bathypelagic. Length up to 39 cm.
Paxton et al. (2001) found that Rondeletia and Gibberichthys are sister taxa, based on the presence of Tominaga's organ (below the nasal rosette), and concluded that "the whalefishes," Barbourisiidae, Rondeletiidae, and Cetomimidae, as a group are, at best, paraphyletic. For this reason, Gibberichthys has been transferred from the superfamily Stephanoberycoidea and placed here, but a cladis-tic study employing more characters is desirable.
Six families (three families of whalefishes). Paxton (1989), Paxton et al. (2001), and Moore (1993) discuss the families.
Family GIBBERICHTHYIDAE (270)—gibberfishes. Marine; tropical western Atlantic, western Indian, and western and southwestern Pacific.
Pelvic fin subabdominal, with one spine and five or six soft rays (prejuvenile with elongate appendage off third pelvic ray); adults with semi-isolated series of 5-8 short spinous rays before soft dorsal fin and four or five before anal fin (about 7-9 soft rays in each fin); scales cycloid, about 28-34 in lateral line; vertical rows of papillae on sides of body over the vertical lateral line tubes; swim bladder present and partially filled with fat; 28-31 vertebrae. Maximum length about 12 cm. Prejuveniles have been found between near-surface waters and 50 m, while adults have been captured primarily between 400 and 1,000 m.
Kasidoron, once given family status (Kasidoridae), is the larva of Gibberichthys pumilus.
One genus, Gibberichthys, with two species known from relatively few specimens (Moore, 2003; Kotlyar, 1996, 2004b).
Family RONDELETIIDAE (271)—redmouth whalefishes. Marine; oceanic.
Box-shaped head; skin smooth; lateral line system composed of a number of pores in each of a series of 14-26 vertical rows; pelvics subabdominal with five or six rays; three epurals and six hypurals; vertebrae 24-27. Maximum length about 11 cm.
Two species, Rondeletia bicolor and R loricata (e.g., Kotlyar, 1996; Paxton and Trnski, 2003).
Family BARBOURISIIDAE (272)—red whalefishes. Marine; parts of Atlantic (including Gulf of Mexico where first found), Indian, and Pacific.
Pelvic fins present, subabdominal, with six rays; skin spiny; dorsal fin rays 19-22; anal fin rays 15-18; vertebrae 40-43. Color reddish-orange. Maximum length 39 cm SL.
One species, Barbourisia rufa (J. R. Paxton and D. J. Bray in Smith and Heemstra, 1986; Paxton et al., 2001; Paxton, 2003).
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