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molas or ocean sunfishes
Bonaparte [C. L.]
A small family of oceanic fishes with an unusual body shape. Rear of body appears to be cut off -- caudal fin reduced to a leathery flap or pseudocaudal (clavus). Mouth tiny; teeth united and beaklike. Fins without spiny rays; first dorsal fin opposite anal fin, far back; used for locomotion; ventral fins absent. Skin leathery and thick. Gill openings small, in front of pectorals. No lateral line. No swim bladder. Vertebrae 16-18. Slow-swimming, epipelagic plankton feeders; some eat jellyfishes but are also known to feed on algae, crustaceans, and fishes. Molas are gray above, silvery gray-brown on sides, paler or dusky below. Two species grow to over 10 feet (about 3 meters) in length, largest to 3,300 lb. (about 1,500 kg). Fecundity can register an estimated 300,000,000 eggs in <b><i>Mola mola </i></b> . Young are spiny and differ markedly from adults. Found worldwide in tropical to temperate seas. The last major revision of this group was by Fraser-Brunner 1951 [ref. 19546]; a phylogenetic hypothesis based on a cladistic analysis has been recently proposed by Santini and Tyler 2002 [ref. 25998]. About 17 nominal genera and 51 nominal species but only 4 valid species in 2 or 3 genera depending on author. [ref. 25095], [ref. 3853], [ref. 22829], [ref. 7180], [ref. 19546], [ref. 2444], [ref. 25182], [ref. 19740], [ref. 23536], [ref. 23100], [ref. 6396], [ref. 26236], [ref. 4278], [ref. 23416], [ref. 26980]</i></b>
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