Although now recognized as unique among ceratioid families, the Centrophrynidae has been confused with oneirodids, while, at the same time, bearing a superficial similarity to ceratiids, especially members of the genus Ceratias. A single genus and species, Centrophryne spinulosa Regan and Trewavas, 1932, is currently recognized, found in all three major oceans of the world in tropical and subtropical latitudes.
Larvae and adolescents of both sexes of the family Centrophrynidae are unique among ceratioids in having a small digitiform hyoid barbel (a hyoid barbel is present elsewhere in the suborder only in females of the linophrynid genus Linophryne).
Metamorphosed females of the family Centrophrynidae are distinguished from those of all other ceratioid families in having a single oval-shaped ovary (ovaries are paired in all other ceratioid families; see Pietsch, 1972a:24, fig. 5). They differ further in having the following combination of character states: supraethmoid present; frontals narrowly separated by cartilage along dorsal midline, each without a ventromedial extension; parietals present; sphenotic spines absent; pterosphenoid, metapterygoid, and mesopterygoid present; hyomandibular with a double head; hypohyals 2; branchiostegal rays 6 (2 + 4); opercle bifurcate, dorsal fork short, less than 50% length of ventral fork; subopercle long and slender, at least as long as ventral fork of opercle, with a slender tapering upper end, lower end with a well-developed spine on anterior margin (less conspicuous in large females); quadrate and articular spines minute; angular and preopercular spines absent; jaws equal anteriorly; lower jaw with a well-developed symphysial spine; postmaxillary process of premaxilla absent; anterior-maxillomandibular ligament long, well developed; pharyngobranchial I present, suspensory in function; pharyngobranchials II and III well developed and toothed; pharyngobranchial IV absent; hypobranchials I-III well ossified; only a single ossified basibranchial; teeth present on epibranchial I and ceratobranchials I-IV; epibranchial I free, not bound to wall of pharynx by connective tissue; proximal one-third to one-half of ceratobranchial I bound to wall of pharynx, distal one-third free; distal end of ceratobranchial I not bound by connective tissue to adjacent ceratobranchial II; proximal one-quarter to one-half of ceratobranchials II-IV not bound together by connective tissue; epurals absent; hypural plate with deep posterior notch; pterygiophore of illicium bearing a small ossified remnant of second cephalic spine; escal bulb and central lumen present, esca without tooth-like denticles; posteroventral process of coracoid absent; pectoral radials 4, fusing to 3 in specimens greater than 150 mm; pelvic bone present, only slightly expanded distally; dorsal-fin rays 6-7; anal-fin rays 5-6; pectoral-fin rays 15-16; pelvic fins absent; caudal rays 9 (2 simple + 4 bifurcated + 3 simple); skin covered with numerous, close-set dermal spinules; pyloric caeca absent.
Males (known only from three specimens, one adult and two in metamorphosis) differ from those of all other ceratioids in having a short hyoid barbel situated behind tip of lower jaw. They are further unique in having the following combination of character states: eyes unusually small, without aphakic space; olfactory organ relatively large, anterior nostril directed anteriorly, about half size of posterior nostril; a triangular upper denticular plate on tip of snout, bearing a transverse series of three well-developed hooked denticles; a crescent-shaped lower denticular plate, with a transverse series of four strong, symmetrically placed denticles, fused at base; skin naked, without dermal spinules (Bertelsen, 1983:313, fig. 2); free-living, no evidence of sexual parasitism (see Pietsch, 2005).
Larvae (two known specimens, a female, 4.2 mm SL; and a male, 7.5 mm SL) with body relatively short and deep; skin moderately inflated; a short, digitiform hyoid barbel; pectoral fins of normal size, not reaching to base of dorsal and anal fins; pelvic fins absent (Bertelsen, 1951:126, fig. 85A; Bertelsen, 1984:329 fig. 168F).
The osteological features cited here and elsewhere in this account of the Centrophrynidae are based on examinations of two adolescent females, one larval male, and one adult male (Bertelsen, 1951:124, fig. 84; Pietsch, 1972a:26-43, figs. 7-24; Bertelsen, 1983:313-314, fig. 3).
Metamorphosed females with body long and slender, not globular, depth approximately 35-40% SL; maxilla terminating below eye in smaller specimens (less than approximately 150 mm), extending posteriorly beyond eye in larger specimens; a large oval pit just anterior to eye in specimens approximately 40 mm and larger; oral valve well developed, lining inside of both upper and lower jaws; a short hyoid barbel present in larvae and adolescent specimens less than 50 mm SL, reduced to a minute protuberance or lost in larger specimens (Pietsch, 1972a:24, fig. 4); two nostrils on each side, at end of a single short tube; teeth slender, recurved and all depressible, large and small intermixed in both jaws; teeth of lower jaw generally larger but less numerous than those of upper; number of teeth in lower jaw 23-96, in upper jaw 32-153; an increase in number of teeth in both jaws with increasing standard length up to approximately 80 mm SL, but a decrease in number with further growth; vomerine teeth 0-9; epibranchial and ceratobranchial teeth: 3-4 broad-based tooth plates on epibranchial I and 5-16 similar tooth plates on ceratobranchials I-IV (see Pietsch, 1972a:36, fig. 15); epibranchial I free from wall of pharynx; epibranchials I-IV closely bound together; proximal one-third to one-half of ceratobranchial I bound to wall of pharynx, distal two-thirds to one-half free; epibranchial IV and ceratobranchial IV bound to wall of pharynx, no opening behind fourth arch; gill filaments present on proximal tips of epibranchials II-III, on proximal tip of ceratobranchial I, and full length of ceratobranchials II-IV; pseudobranch absent; length of illicium of females 18.7-26.0% SL; anterior end of pterygiophore of illicium exposed, emerging on snout, its proximal end concealed under skin; esca with a compressed, fan-shaped anterior appendage, and a single, short, more-or-less compressed posterior appendage; neuromasts of acoustico-lateralis system located at tips of low cutaneous papillae, pattern of placement as described for other ceratioids (Pietsch, 1969, 1972b, 1974a, 1974b).
Males in metamorphosis, only two known specimens, 11.5 and 16 mm SL; smaller specimen with skin slightly inflated, faintly pigmented, and semi-transparent, subdermal larval pigmentation showing through; a short stout barbel on throat, unpigmented on tip; depth of body approximately 40% SL; length of head approximately 45% SL; larval teeth present in lower jaw, absent in upper jaw; denticles preformed as small papillae; a pair and perhaps a median denticle on snout, four somewhat larger denticles on chin; anterior nostril directed anteriorly, slightly larger than posterior nostril, depth approximately 14% SL (about 1.5 times diameter of eye); olfactory lamellae 7; liver and intestines well developed; testes small (Bertelsen, 1951:127, figs. 84B, 87).
Larger male in late metamorphosis with characters of smaller male, except skin darkly pigmented, not inflated (Pietsch, 1972a:22, fig. 2); skin between anterior and posterior nostrils, and between anterior nostril of each side, pigmented; distance between tip of snout and anterior edge of eye 15.6% SL; only traces of larval teeth on lower jaw near symphysis; denticles well ossified but not fused basally, three on snout, four embedded in skin below symphysis of lower jaw; olfactory lamellae not countable; a well-developed symphysial spine on lower jaw; a small anterior spine on subopercle; dorsoventral length of posterior nostril 6.9% SL; dorsoventral length of anterior nostril 5.0% SL; hyoid barbel darkly pigmented, not tipped with white, its length approximately 1.0 mm or 6.3% SL; distance from tip of symphysial spine of lower jaw to base of hyoid barbel 5.0 mm or 31.3% SL; testes only slightly larger than those of 11.5-mm male (see Bertelsen, 1951:126, fig. 87).
Free-living male of Centrophryne spinulosa, 12.8 mm, SIO 70-347. (After Bertelsen, 1983). © Bertelsen
Adult male (a single known specimen, 12.8 mm SL) with parietals present; hyomandibular with a double head; opercle bifurcate, length of upper fork about 75% length of lower fork; upper part of subopercle slender, tapering to a fine point; anterior margin of lower part of subopercle with a sharp spine; pectoral radials unossified; larval teeth absent, edge of dentary irregularly resorbed; a triangular upper denticular plate on tip of snout, bearing a transverse series of three well-developed hooked denticles; a crescent-shaped lower denticular plate, with a transverse series of four strong, symmetrically placed denticles, fused at base; eyes small, 0.55 mm or 4.3% SL in diameter, without aphakic space; olfactory organ relatively large, posterior nostril 0.9 mm or 7.7% SL in vertical diameter; anterior nostril about half size of posterior nostril; number of olfactory lamellae 7-8; a short hyoid barbel placed about 34% SL behind tip of lower jaw; skin naked, without dermal spinules; testes small, immature, each measuring about 0.5 x 0.3 mm (Bertelsen, 1983:313, figs. 2, 3).
Larvae (two known specimens, a female, 4.2 mm SL; and a male, 7.5 mm SL) with skin inflated; pigmentation very faint, melanophores not sharply separated; a short, digitiform hyoid barbel; pectoral fins of normal size, not reaching to base of dorsal and anal fins; pelvic fins absent; male larva with some few melanophores behind eye and on upper part of opercle; a faint group of melanophores extending from subopercle down to barbel; pigmentation of body increasing in strength posteriorly, sharply delimited by unpigmented posterior portion of caudal peduncle; diameter of eye approximately 10% SL; diameter of olfactory organ approximately a third that of eye (Bertelsen, 1951:126, fig. 85A).
Except for the illicial rudiment and slightly smaller olfactory organ, smaller larval female similar to male, except pigmentation slightly weaker; melanophores lacking behind eye and only a very few present on opercular region (Bertelsen, 1951:127).
Color of metamorphosed females dark reddish brown to black over entire head, body, and fins; tip of anterior escal appendage white with large scattered melanophores (Pietsch, 1972a:22, fig. 3). Adult male light brown, semitransparent; subdermal pigment very faint without any distinct concentrations.
The largest known female is a 247-mm SL individual collected from the China Sea. The only known adult male measures 12.8 mm SL.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Centrophryne spinulosa
No available public DNA sequences.
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Centrophryne spinulosa
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Horned lantern fish
The horned lantern fish or prickly seadevil, Centrophryne spinulosa, is a deep-sea anglerfish found worldwide. It is the sole species in the family Centrophrynidae, distinguished from other deep-sea anglerfishes by various characters including four pectoral radials, an anterior spine on the subopercular bone, and a short hyoid (chin) barbel in both sexes.
The horned lantern fish occurs in the Pacific Ocean from Baja California south to the Marquesas Islands and the Gulf of California. Specimens have also been captured in other locations, including New Guinea, the South China Sea, Venezuela, and the Mozambique Channel, suggesting a wide oceanic distribution in tropical and subtropical waters. Specimens were caught at depths from 650 to over 2000 m (2130–6560 ft), while larvae have been recovered close to the surface to a depth of 35 m (115 ft).
The female horned lantern fish measures up to 23 cm (9.1 in) in length and is long and slender, with a large head and jaws of equal length. The jaws are filled with slender, recurved, depressible teeth of mixed large and small sizes. There is a large oval pit in front of each eye in specimens larger than 42 mm. The eye itself lies beneath the skin and appears through a translucent patch. The fish is reddish brown to black in color; its skin is covered with numerous close-set spines. The illicium ("fishing rod") and esca (lure) are attached to the snout. The esca has a fan-shaped appendage in front and another short appendage on the back; the tip is white with scattered large melanophores. There is a small hyoid barbel, although it is vestigial in adult females.
The males are much smaller and dark brown in color, measuring up to 1.6 cm (0.63 in) long and lacking the illicium and esca. The known specimens are all immature, though already with large olfactory organs and well-developed denticular plates on the tip of the snout bearing 3-4 curved teeth each. Their hyoid barbel distinguishes them from the males of all other deep-sea anglerfish. The two known larvae measure 4.2 mm and 7.5 mm long and have short, stout bodies with moderately inflated skin.
Unlike other deep-sea anglerfish, female horned lantern fish have only a single ovary lined with villi-like epithelial projections rather than epithelial folds. Similar to other ceratioid anglerfish, the males of the horned lantern fish undergo sexual parasitism. A female horned lantern fish has been found with a parasitic male Melanocetus johnsonii attached, though the coupling was likely in error (possibly occurring while the two fish were in the net) and there was no fusion of tissues.
The function of the hyoid barbel in the horned lantern fish is unknown. The only other deep-sea anglerfishes that have a hyoid barbel are the linophrynids, where it occurs only in the females and is often elaborate and/or bioluminescent.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2008). "Centrophryne spinulosa" in FishBase. October 2008 version.
- Pietsch, Theodore W. and Christopher P. Kenaley. (2005). Centrophryne spinulosa. Prickly Seadevils. Version 3 November 2005 (under construction). Tree of Life Web Project.
- Pietsch, Theodore W. (8 March 1972). "A Review of the Monotypic Deep-Sea Anglerfish Family Centrophrynidae: Taxonomy, Distribution and Osteology". Copeia (American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists) 1972 (1): 17–47. doi:10.2307/1442779. JSTOR 1442779.
- Pietsch, Theodore W. (August 2005). "Dimorphism, parasitism, and sex revisited: modes of reproduction amongst deep-sea ceratioid anglerfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes)". Ichthyological Research 52 (3): 207–236. doi:10.1007/s10228-005-0286-2. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
- Vieira, S; Biscoito, M (Dec 2013). "Sexual parasitism in the deep-sea ceratioid anglerfish Centrophryne spinulosa". Copeia: 666–669.
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