Bonaparte [C. L.]
Wolffishes are carnivorous, primarily demersal inhabitants of shallow to moderately deep cold waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans. They are the largest of the northern blennylike fishes, reaching weights of nearly 20 kg. Most are compressed, moderately elongate fishes but one, <b><i>Anarrhichthys ocellatus, </i></b> is extremely elongate and for its shape goes by the common name wolf-eel. Dorsal fin long, starting at the head, and composed of 69-88 flexible spines in <b><i>Anarhichas </i></b> and 218-250 in <b><i>Anarrhichthys. </i></b> Anal fin with 42-55 soft rays in <b><i>Anarhichas </i></b> and 0-1 spines and 180-233 soft rays in <b><i>Anarrhichthys. </i></b> Caudal fin separated from dorsal and anal fins by a short peduncle in <b><i>Anarhichas</i></b>, confluent and tapering to a point in <b><i>Anarrhichthys. </i></b> Pectoral fins large and rounded, with 18-24 rays. Pelvic fins absent. One pair of nostrils. Scales cycloid, minute, and nonoverlapping, or absent. Mechanosensory canals of head well developed, pores with age becoming overgrown: nasal 2, occipital 3-5, interorbital 1-2, postorbital 4-5, suborbital 7-9, preopercular 4, mandibular 3-4. One or two trunk lateral lines of superficial neuromasts, difficult to discern in preserved material. Most wolffish species have strong canines and molars for digging out and crushing clams and other hard-shelled prey. Northern wolffish, <b><i>Anarhichas denticulatus</i></b>, have mostly conical teeth and feed on prey with relatively weak shells and tough skins such as crabs, sea urchins, and lumpsuckers (Cyclopteridae). Gill membranes attached to the isthmus, gill openings widely separated. Branchiostegal rays 6-8. Swim bladder absent. Vertebrae 72-89 in <b><i>Anarhichas </i></b> and 221-251 in <b><i>Anarrhichthys </i></b> . Maximum lengths 1.2-2.4 m (4-8 ft). Inhabit boulder-strewn, sandy and pebbly bottoms in fairly shallow water except for <b><i>A. denticulatus</i></b>, a benthopelagic inhabitant of deeper waters. Some of the Atlantic species, primarily spotted wolffish, <b><i>Anarhichas minor, </i></b> and Atlantic wolffish, <b><i>A. lupus, </i></b> are fished commercially for food and the skin is tanned for leather. Two genera and five species: four species in <b><i>Anarhichas </i></b> and one in <b><i>Anarrhichthys. </i></b> The family revision by Barsukov (1959 [ref. 23136]) remains the standard, with one nomenclatural correction made later by Barsukov (in Hureau and Monod 1973:529 [ref. 9396]): the placement of <b><i>Anarhichas latifrons </i></b> as a junior synonym of <b><i>A. denticulatus</i></b>, whereas previously the name <b><i>latifrons </i></b> was thought to have priority. The first use of the family-group name apparently was by Bonaparte (1846:7 [ref. 519]), as a subfamily in Blenniidae. Currently classified in the suborder Zoarcoidei (e.g., Nelson 1994:391 [ref. 26204]). Several modern authors have used the spelling Anarrhichadidae, but Anarhichadidae, after <b><i>Anarhichas </i></b> Linnaeus 1758, is correct.</i></b>
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