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| Common names: wrasse (English), doncella (Espanol), cuchillo (Espanol), peine (Espanol) |
Novaculichthys taeniourus (Lacepède, 1801)
Body elongate, oblong, very compressed; forehead profile angular, without fleshy keel; eye nearer mouth than head profile; 2 pairs of stout canines at front of upper and lower jaws, no canines at rear of jaws; preopercular margin free; dorsal fin IX, 12, first two dorsal spines greatly prolonged in juveniles; anal rays III, 13; pectoral rays 13; lateral line in 2 parts, 19-20 pored scales on front upper portion + 5-6 on base of tail; head scaleless except for a few scales below & sometimes behind eye.
Adults dark greenish brown with white spot on each scale; head grey with several brown bands radiating from eye; tail black with white base; dorsal and anal fins black, with wiggly whitish lines; juveniles mottled and banded, either green, reddish or brown, and spotted with white.
Size: grows to 30 cm.
Habitat: rubble and sand bottoms. Can overturn large rocks with its powerful jaws when searching for invertebrate prey; the young mimic drifting masses of algae.
Depth: 3-30 m.
Widespread in the Indo-Pacific from East Africa to the Americas; central Gulf of California to Colombia, plus the Revillagigedos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo and the Galapagos.