Familia Synodontidae

(including Macristiidae and Bathysauridae)

by K. J. Sulak

Upper jaw dominated by the premaxilla. Maxilla reduced or modified and unapparent. Jaws armed with numerous long, sharp, often depressible teeth. Snout typically pointed in dorsal profile. Eyes large and normally formed, even in the abyssal Bathysaurus. Adipose fin usually present.
Demersal (except Harpadon) on soft bottom from the mesohaline estuarine zone to the abyssal plain (to 4,800 m). Common to rare, never abundant; solitary lurking predators. Feeding predominantly on fishes and nektonic megafaunal invertebrates (Anderson et al., 1966; Sedberry and Musick, 1978; Marshall and Merrett, 1977). Apparently dioecious, except Bathysaurus (Wenner, 1978). No sexual dimorphism. Larvae with characteristic periioneal pigment spots (Anderson et al., 1966; Okiyama, 1973; Johnson, 1974). Bathysaurus has a peculiar 'Macristium' larva (Regan, 1911; Rosen, 1971; Johnson, 1974; Marshall, 1961; Ida and Tominaga, 1971). Occasionally taken commercially, some genera reported as good to eat (Jenkins, 1946; Okada, 1955; Smith, 1949).

Genera 5; in Clofnam area 3.

Recent revisions: Sulak (1977b).