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Oceanic Anglerfishes

Oceanic Anglerfishes: Extraordinary Diversity in the Deep Sea

Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 576
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  • Book Info
    Oceanic Anglerfishes
    Book Description:

    No environment on Earth imposes greater physical and biological constraints on life than the deep oceanic midwaters. Near-freezing temperatures, the absence of sunlight, enormous pressure, and a low food supply make habitation by any living thing almost inconceivable. Yet 160 species of anglerfishes are found there in surprising profusion. Monstrous in appearance, anglerfishes possess a host of unique and spectacular morphological, behavioral, and physiological innovations. In this fully illustrated book, the first to focus on these intriguing fish, Theodore W. Pietsch delivers a comprehensive summary of all that is known about anglerfishes—morphology, diversity, evolution, geographic distribution, bioluminescence, and reproduction.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94255-4
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. PART I The Biology of Deep-Sea Anglerfishes

    • ONE Introduction and Historical Perspective
      (pp. 3-22)

      No place on earth can compete with the enormity of physical and biological constraints imposed on life in the deep oceanic midwaters. With temperatures near freezing, the absence of solar radiation, inconceivable pressures from the weight of water above, and biomass so low that meals are far and few between, it is almost inconceivable that animals could occupy this vast and forbidding habitat (Fig. 1). Yet fishes are there in surprising profusion, having adapted to these extreme limitations in a host of bizarre and unpredictable ways. Few groups, however, are as prolific and spectacular as the deep-sea ceratioid anglerfishes.


    • TWO What Makes an Anglerfish?
      (pp. 23-50)

      Anglerfishes differ radically from all other fishes. With the first dorsal-fin spine mounted on the snout and modified to serve as a luring apparatus, and gill openings narrowly constricted to form tubelike structures that open posteriorly behind the base of the pectoral fin, they can hardly be confused with anything else. The deep-sea suborder Ceratioidei is by far the largest, most highly derived, and certainly the least known of the five primary lineages of the order, which has come to be called the Lophiiformes. When compared with its less-derived lophiiform relatives, it too is easily distinguished. In fact, a single...

    • THREE Biodiversity
      (pp. 51-172)

      The Ceratioidei, containing all the deep-sea anglerfishes, is by far the most species-rich vertebrate taxon within the bathypelagic realm, a vast, largely empty body of cold, nutrient-poor water that constitutes the world’s oceans below 1000 m. When compared to other vertebrate groups that inhabit these waters, nothing comes close to anglerfishes for variety and number of forms. The present chapter is devoted to a demonstration of this surprisingly rich diversity, providing evidence for the recognition of 11 ceratioid families, 35 genera, and 160 species. It begins with a concise summary of the most significant distinguishing characters of the suborder (a...

    • FOUR Evolutionary Relationships
      (pp. 173-196)

      Under the extreme selective pressures imposed by meso- and bathypelagic environments, a vast array of bizarre and wonderful creatures has evolved, displaying behaviors and associated morphological adaptations that are almost beyond our ability to imagine. Among the highly diverse products of this evolution in the great oceanic depths, few are as surprising and spectacular as the deep-sea anglerfishes. Just knowing the full breadth of morphological and taxonomic diversity within this extraordinary taxon—which the preceding chapter is intended to provide—is enough to stimulate a host of intriguing questions: Why are there so many living species of ceratioids—more than...

    • FIVE Geographic Distribution
      (pp. 197-228)

      Ceratioid anglerfishes are widely distributed in all the major marine faunal realms of the world between extremes of 70°N and 75°S (Fig. 204). While most of the adults are restricted to lower mesopelagic and bathypelagic depths, those of some, for exampleOneirodes carlsbergi, are concentrated at depths of only 300 or 400 m, while members of at least one genus(Thaumatichthys)have been captured off the bottom at depths in excess of 3600 m. At the same time, the eggs and larvae of all taxa are found in near-surface waters, thus the overall vertical and horizontal breadth of occurrence of...

    • SIX Bioluminescence and Luring
      (pp. 229-252)

      The external morphology of the light organs of ceratioids—those aspects that provide the essential characters that delineate the numerous species of the suborder—have been described in Chapter Two, What Makes an Anglerfish? The internal anatomy, functional morphology, and luminescence of these structures are dealt with here, along with a discussion of the biological significance of bioluminescence in these fishes (Fig. 240). Specialized structures adapted to produce bioluminescence in ceratioids are restricted to females, the most conspicuous of these being the bait, or esca, located at the tip of the illicium. Other structures of females known or thought to...

    • SEVEN Locomotion, Food, and Feeding
      (pp. 253-276)

      Inhabiting such great depths in the vastness of the world oceans, living ceratioid anglerfishes are totally inaccessible by all reasonable means of observation. Their behavior is therefore almost completely unknown, and what we may assume about their life-style is a combination of “armchair biology” and a few scattered observations of individuals that have survived for minutes or hours aboard ship immediately after capture (in some highly unusual cases, ceratioids have been keep alive for several days in the laboratory; e.g., see Cowles and Childress, 1995:1633). But these opportunities to witness behavior firsthand have been few and far between, and in...

    • EIGHT Reproduction and Early Life History
      (pp. 277-308)

      In 1922, the Icelandic fisheries biologist Bjarni Saemundsson (Fig. 279) published a remarkable description of two small fish attached by their snouts to the belly of a large female deep-sea anglerfish identified asCeratias holboelli(Fig. 280). Not recognizing them as males, Saemundsson (1922) described them as the young of the same species: “I can form no idea of how, or when, the larvae, or young, become attached to the mother; I cannot believe that the male fastens the egg to the female. This remains a puzzle for some future researcher to solve” (Saemundsson, 1922:164, translated from the Danish by...

  6. PART II A Classification of Deep-Sea Anglerfishes

    • Introduction
      (pp. 313-318)

      The following classification of the Ceratioidei is presented for readers who require more detailed systematic information than presented in the main body of the book. An explanation of the methods employed in applying names to the various taxa and in gathering and analyzing data is followed by a descriptive account of each of the 11 families, 35 genera, and 160 recognized species of the suborder. To provide historical context for the taxa presently recognized, each account includes a complete annotated synonymy of names, with references to all pertinent scientific and popular literature, and a list of material examined. This is...

    • Families, Genera, and Species of the Ceratioidei
      (pp. 319-510)

      Aceratiidae Regan, 1926:42 (in part; family of suborder Ceratioidea to contain a free-living male of genusRhynchoceratiasreassigned to genusCentrophryneby Bertelsen, 1951:125, 126).

      Eurostrinae Parr, 1930a:20 (in part; subfamily of family Aceratiidae to contain a free-living male of genusRhynchoceratiasreassigned to genusCentrophryneby Bertelsen, 1951:125, 126).

      Centrophrynidae Bertelsen, 1951:124 (family of suborder Ceratioidei to contain genusCentrophryne).

      Larvae and juveniles of both sexes of the family Centrophrynidae are unique among ceratioids in having a small digitiform hyoid barbel (present elsewhere in the suborder only in females of the linophrynid genusLinophryne).

      Metamorphosed females of the family...

    (pp. 511-518)
    (pp. 519-520)
    (pp. 521-522)
    (pp. 523-526)
    (pp. 527-546)
    (pp. 547-548)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 549-557)