The order Lophiiformes contains a highly diverse array of marine fishes that are primitively benthic shallow-water dwellers, but have evolved to form several groups of deep-shelf and slope inhabitants as well as a highly modified assemblage of open-water, meso- and bathypelagic species. Commonly referred to as anglerfishes, the group is characterized most strikingly by the structure of the first dorsal-fin spine, typically placed out on the tip of the snout and modified to serve as a luring apparatus.
The order contains approximately 322 living species, distributed among 65 genera and 18 families. The families themselves are distributed among five suborders (Pietsch, 1984a; Pietsch and Grobecker, 1987): the Lophioidei (reviewed by Caruso, 1981, 1983; Caruso and Bullis, 1976), containing a single family, four genera, and 25 species of relatively shallow-water, dorso-ventrally flattened forms, commonly referred to as the goosefishes or monkfishes; the Antennarioidei, with four families, 15 genera, and about 54 species, nearly all laterally compressed, shallow- to moderately deep-water, benthic forms, with a host of common names including frogfishes, sea-mice, sea-toads, warty anglerfishes, and handfishes (Pietsch, 1981, 1984a, 1984b; Last et al., 1983); the Chaunacoidei or coffinfishes, two genera and perhaps as many as 14 species (Caruso, 1989a, 1989b) of more or less globose, deep-water benthic forms; the Ogcocephaloidei or batfishes, a single family of ten genera and some 67 species of dorsoventrally flattened, deep-water benthic forms (Bradbury, 1967, 1980, 1988, 1999); and the Ceratioidei, the deep-sea anglerfishes, containing 11 families, 35 genera, and 162 species (Bertelsen, 1951, 1984; Pietsch, 1984a, 1999).
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