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Gill [T. N.]
Wrymouths are eel-like benthic inhabitants of cold-temperate North Pacific and western North Atlantic coastal waters. They make extensive systems of tunnels with numerous exits by burrowing in the silt. Body elongate, rounded anteriorly and compressed posteriorly; head broad, depressed, with eyes set high. Lower jaw projecting; mouth large, oblique to nearly vertical. Dorsal and anal fins long, extending to caudal fin base or confluent with caudal fin; dorsal fin with 60-80 stiff spines, anal fin with 0-3 spines and 43-52 soft rays. Pectoral fins very small. Pelvic fins absent, pelvic girdle present. Nostrils tubular, one pair. Scales absent, except small cycloid scales present in <b><i>Cryptacanthodes giganteus. </i></b> Mechanosensory lateral line canals of head not opening to outside. Trunk lateral line represented by widely spaced pit organs (superficial neuromasts). Vomerine teeth present; palatine teeth present in all except <b><i>C. aleutensis. </i></b> Gill membranes broadly connected to isthmus, gill openings not continuing far forward. Branchiostegal rays 6. Gill rakers very short, less than 15 in number. Swim bladder absent. Vertebrae 71-88. Pale brown above and cream-colored below, with or without spots; or uniformly pink or red. Attain total lengths of 31-127 cm (12-50 in)$. Diet includes crustaceans and other invertebrates. Four species in one genus. The first use of the family group name evidently was by Gill (1861:46 [ref. 1766]), from the type genus <b><i>Cryptacanthodes </i></b> Storer. Wrymouth classification herein follows Makushok (1958 [ref. 2878], 1961 [ref. 26623]). Hence, Cryptacanthodidae are classified as a separate family from the Stichaeidae, and <b><i>Lyconectes, </i></b> <b><i>Delolepis, </i></b> and <b><i>Cryptacanthoides </i></b> are included in <b><i>Cryptacanthodes. </i></b> Makushok separated the Cryptacanthodidae from the Stichaeidae on the basis of differences in skull and cephalic sensory system structure and proportions of the pectoral radials, as well as differences in external appearance; and showed that all four species of wrymouths differ from each other by such insignificant features that generic separation is not justified. Nawojchik (1986 [ref. 26620]), applying a cladistic analysis, established monophyly for the Cryptacanthodidae. [Footnote] A 127-cm <b><i>C. giganteus </i></b> was collected in October 2001 near Dundas Island, northern British Columbia, by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans; reported to the author in February 2003, with photographs, by William van Orden of Heriot Bay, British Columbia, who has made a life-size model of the fish from a mold.</i></b>
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