Familia Caulophrynidae


by E. Bertelsen and T. W. Pietsch

These and the following members of the suborder Ceratioidei have extreme sexual dimorphism with dwarfed males lacking external cephalic finrays and with teeth of jaws replaced by hooked denticles on tip of snout and lower jaw. (Denticles in most species fused at base forming ossifications termed upper and lower denticular). With very few exceptions the free-living stages of ceratioid males cannot be identified below generic level. Females with a well-developed first cephalic finray (illicium) usually with distal bulb-shaped light-organ (esca).
Solitary, meso- and bathypelagic fishes: passively attracting prey by means of illicial apparatus; males actively seeking mates by means of highly developed sense organs, attaching themselves to the females by means of the jaw denticles and in some families becoming parasitic on them through a fusion of tissue and apparently blood-vessels. Food of females: fishes, cephalopods, crustaceans. Eggs released in gelatinous veils; larvae epipelagic.
Females of Caulophrynidae distinct from other ceratioids in having extremely long dorsal and anal finrays and in lacking escal bulb and photophore. Males parasitic with skin naked and denticular teeth of upper and lower jaw fused at base. Larvae and free-living stages of males unique among ceratioids in having well-developed pelvic fins.

Genera 2; in Clofnam area 1.

Recent revision: Pietsch (1979).