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Gill [T. N.]
Body elongate to moderate, compressed laterally; head small; eye large (not tubular), situated near snout tip; interorbitul space not very narrow; snout short (less than eye diameter); mouth small; minute teeth present on dentary, vomer; teeth of palatine present or absent; no teeth on maxilla and praemaxilla; 1 praemaxilla present; branchyosteral rays 2-3; gill membranes broadly united and separate from isthmus. No spines in fins; dorsal fin situated at middle of body, with 6-13 rays; dorsal adipose fin present or absent; pectoral fins close to ventral surface of body, with 7-13 rays; pelvic fins under or befor dorsal fin, with 6-11 rays; anal fins with 10-28 rays; lateral line present or absent, when present running from angle of opercle to base of caudal fin; scales cycloid; no photophores or other luminous tissue; gasbladder absent; vertebrae 38-55. Body dark or light. Length to 20 cm. Deepsea smelts are mesopelagic and bathypelagic fishes distributed in tropical to boreal waters of all oceans. Feed on zooplankton. The last major revisions: Kobyliansky 1986 [ref. 6002] and 1990 [ref. 22788]. Kobyliansky 1990 [ref. 22788] presents arguments to unite the families Bathylagidae and Microstomatidae in one family Microstomatidae Gill 1881 (with two subfamilies Bathylaginae and Microstomatinae). The family Bathylagidae includes 21-24 valid species in 8 genera.
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