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Scopoli [J. A.]
Snailfishes are a large and morphologically diverse family of marine fishes within the order Scorpaeniformes, including at least 340 species in about 29 currently recognized genera. Many taxa are uncommon or rare, and new species are frequently described. Their pelvic fins are modified to form a ventral sucking disk, which may be reduced or lost in deep-sea and pelagic forms. They lack scales, and the skin is soft and frequently separated from the body by a layer of soft gelatinous tissue that may have a buoyancy function. The cephalic pore system is very well developed, but they lack a lateral line canal and pores, although many species have naked neuromasts either in place of a lateral line or scattered over the body. Maximum known length is about 80 cm, but usually they are 20-30 cm or shorter; dwarf species are known, having adult females about 1 cm in length. Abundant and speciose in temperate and cold regions of the Pacific and Atlantic, in polar waters, and in the deep sea, liparids occur from the intertidal to the maximum depth known for fishes of 7587 m (Andriashev & Pitruk 1993 [ref. 21310]). They are the most speciose family of fishes in the Antarctic (Andriashev and Stein, 1998 [ref. 23367]), the North Pacific (Mecklenburg et al. 2002 [ref. 25968]), and possibly in the Arctic. They also occur in the deep Indian Ocean, but only a few species are known from there. We expect many more species to be described from poorly sampled regions, especially the deep sea. Most snailfishes are benthic or benthopelagic, but pelagic genera and species exist (<b><i>Genioliparis</i></b>, <b><i>Lipariscus</i></b>, <b><i>Nectoliparis</i></b>, <b><i>Odontoliparis</i></b>, <b><i>Psednos </i></b> ). Food consists usually of small benthic organisms, such as crustaceans and annelids, but several deep-sea genera (<b><i>Genioliparis</i></b>, <b><i>Odontoliparis </i></b> ) are predators on nekton. Fecundity tends to be low to very low (as few as six ripe eggs at one time), and eggs are correspondingly large (to 8 mm diameter); some species lay their eggs in the gill cavities of crabs, scallops, and possibly other invertebrates. Parental care seems likely but has not been demonstrated. Many species probably have direct development (eggs hatch as juveniles rather than as larvae) with no planktonic stage, a characteristic likely to have influenced the high diversity and endemism demonstrated by the family. Liparids have no commercial value or use. Liparid and cyclopterid fishes form the Cyclopteroidea, a sister group of the superfamily Cottoidea (Yabe, 1985 [ref. 11522]). Intrafamilial relationships are very poorly understood, and although subfamilies have been proposed (Paraliparidinae, Careproctinae, Rhodichtinae, Nectoliparidinae), we believe there is insufficient information to support their use. Although it is possible to divide the family into two groups (diskbearing (Liparidinae) and diskless (Paraliparidinae) (Gill 1891 [ref. 26641]), we do not do so because so little is known of intrafamilial relationships. Kido (1988 [ref. 12287]) published a paraphyletic cladistic analysis of the family including only Northwest Pacific species and genera (but see also Balushkin 1996 [ref. 22524]). Neither proposed phylogeny was based on a complete review of the family. <b><i>Liparoides beauchampi </i></b> Lloyd 1909 [ref. 2814] is a cottoid (Stein 1978 [ref. 26640]) and <b><i>Menziesichthys bacescui </i></b> Nalbant & Mayer 1971:322 [ref. 23676] from the Peru-Chile Trench is probably an ophidiid. Even specimens in perfect condition can be extremely difficult to identify. Because liparids are soft-bodied and scaleless, they are easily damaged, often making identification more difficult or impossible. Characters of particular importance include the usual ones such as fin-ray and vertebral counts, length of head and fin rays, body depth and other measurements relative to standard length. Other important characters or character suites include teeth (shape, number, and arrangement in the jaws), pyloric caeca (number, color, and shape); gill opening (length and position); cephalic sensory canal system (number, size, position, and presence or absence of pores); and pectoral fin-rays (number, spacing, lengths, and development). Characteristics of the pectoral girdle are particularly useful and important (number and shape of radials, shape of scapula and coracoid, and presence or absence of foramina), but examination of these requires dissection, clearing, and staining to show bone or cartilage. One possible fossil species is known, <b><i>Liparis </i></b> (?) <b><i>minusculus </i></b> Nolf 1977:45, Pl. XVIII, fig. 14-16 [ref. 26877] (from otoliths only) from the Oligo-Miocene of Belgium, but it might be a scorpaenid (Nolf, pers. comm., 2000). The otoliths are very similar to those of recent <b><i>Liparis liparis </i></b> (Linnaeus) and <b><i>Liparis gibbus </i></b> Bean (described by Chernova 1989 [ref. 26867]). In a thesis, Pitruk 1991 [ref. 26878] reviewed much of the family from the Okhotsk Sea, suggested a phylogeny, and proposed new names and taxa. However, although 100 copies of a detailed abstract were printed and distributed widely, because the purpose of the unpublished manuscript was not to provide "a public and permanent scientific record" [Art. 8.2, International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature, 4th edition, 1999] but rather to provide a record of the thesis and its subject, none of the names or taxa included therein are available for use, and thus are not included in the checklist. The original spelling of the subfamily name Liparinae (Gill 1861 [ref. 1766]), grammatically incorrect, was corrected to Liparidinae (Gill 1864 [ref. 1700]). The name Liparididae was widely used in literature (Vogt 1988:130 [ref. 6625]), but the correct family name was recently fixed as Liparidae by the ICZN (Opinion 1673 [ref. 26873]). In addition, in ICZN Corrigenda [ref. 26874], the gender of the genus <b><i>Liparis </i></b> is noted as being masculine, not feminine. We have changed a number of names to correspond with this decision</i></b>
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