Mouth moderately oblique; lips fringed; eyes dorsal or nearly so; lateral line on middle of side; body with scales; pelvic fins widely separated; dorsal and anal fins long.
In New Zealand, Leptoscopus macropygus is known to occur also in the lower reaches of slow rivers (McDowall, 1990).
Three genera, Crapatulus, Leptoscopus, and Lesueurina,, with five species (Nelson, 1994; P. R. Last et al. in Carpenter and Niem, 2001).
Family AMMODYTIDAE (441)—sand lances. Marine; cold to tropical, Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.
Body elongate; premaxilla protractile (except in Hyperoplus); caudal fin forked; dorsal and anal fin spines absent; lower jaw projecting forward beyond upper jaw with symphysial process; scales cycloid, minute, arranged in oblique rows; pelvic fins usually absent (jugular and with one spine and four or five soft rays in Embolichthys); lateral line high, close to dorsal fin; no teeth; single long dorsal fin usually with 40-69 soft rays; anal fin rays 14-36; seven branchiostegal rays; gill membranes separate; no swim bladder; vertebrae 52-78. Length up to 30 cm.
In a 1990 study, T. W. Pietsch and C. P. Zabetian regarded ammodytids as a possible sister group to Trachinidae plus Uranoscopidae, and gave a summary of meristic characters for many taxa of the suborder.
Eight genera, Ammodytes, Ammodytoides, Bleekeria,, Embolichthys, GGymnammodytes, Hyperoplus, Lepidammodytes, and Protammodytes, and about 23 species (Collette and Randall, 2000; Ida et al., 1994).
Family TRACHINIDAE (442)—weeverfishes. Marine; eastern Atlantic (most common in Mediterranean) and Black Sea.
Body elongate; dorsal fin with 5-7 spines and 21-32 soft rays; anal fin with two spines and 24-34 soft rays; pectoral fin with 15 rays; pelvic fins in front of pectorals, with one spine and five soft rays; poisonous glands associated with gillcover spine and first dorsal spines; six infraorbitals; 34-43 vertebrae. These fish have a habit of burying in sand. They are able to inflict painful stings with their spines.
Two genera (as determined in 1983 by F. Bentivegna and G. Fiorito), the monotypic Echiichthys and Trachinus (about 5), with about six species.
Family URANOSCOPIDAE (443)—stargazers. Marine, occasionally in estuaries; Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.
Head large and cuboid; body naked or covered with small smooth scales; mouth extremely oblique; lips fringed; eyes dorsal or nearly so; lateral line on upper part of side; pelvic fins narrowly separated, with one spine and five soft rays, located under the throat; dorsal and anal fins moderately long, spinous dorsal absent in many; anal fin with 12-18 soft rays; some with a small wormlike filament extending from floor of mouth used to lure prey fish; two large double-grooved poison spines, with a venom gland at each base, just above the pectoral fin and behind the opercle; four infraorbitals; 24-29 vertebrae. Maximum length 70 cm.
One genus, Astroscopus, has internal nares used during inspiration and electric organs derived from portions of eye muscle.
Xenocephalus armatus (the Armored Blenny) from New Ireland, for which the family Xenocephalidae has been recognized, once thought to be a trachinoid or blennioid and based on the missing holotype, was provisionally placed in the Dactylopteridae in Nelson (1994). Springer and Bauchot (1994) concluded that Xenocephalus Kaup, 1858, is a senior synonym of the currently recognized uranoscopid genus Gnathagnus Gill, 1861. Therefore, if the type species of Gnathagnus, G. elongates (Temminck & Schlegel, 1843), is regarded as congeneric with Xenocephalus armatus Kaup, 1858, then all species currently placed in Gnathagnus (e.g., G egregious) should be recognized in Xenocephalus (e.g., X egregious).
Eight genera, Astroscopus, Genyagnus, Ichthyscopus, Kathetostoma, Pleuroscopus, Selenoscopus, Uranoscopus, and Xenocephalus (synonym Gnathagnus), and about 50 species (e.g., Springer and Bauchot, 1994; H. Kishimoto in Carpenter and Niem, 2001:3519-3531; K. E. Carpenter in Carpenter, 2003:1746-1747).
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