The chaunacids are one of the more recognizable lophiiform families, with large globose heads, a conspicuous network of open sensory canals, and a single open lateral–line canal extending posteriorly along a moderately compressed trunk and tail. The angling apparatus consists of a short illicium with a terminal esca comprised of a dense cluster of short cirri. The family contains two genera and 15 species. Chaunacids live a benthic lifestyle at depths ranging from 90 to over 2000 m. Researchers at the College of Charleston recently captured a red-eyed gaper (Chaunax stigmaeus) on video sitting on the seafloor off South Carolina, U.S.A.
Chaunacids are occasionally caught as bycatch in commercial fishery operations; however, with the exception of some regions in eastern Asia, chaunacids are not marketed for human consumption.
Body rounded and very slightly compressed, with very loose, flaccid skin; body tapering to a small rounded tail. Head very large and globose, roughly cuboid and bearing especially prominent open lateral-line canals; eyes dorsolateral and covered with a clear ‘window’ of skin; mouth large, oblique to nearly vertical, with relatively small, sharp slender teeth. Illicium short, located just behind snout in front of an ovoid, scaleless patch of skin, or within a depression into which it can be retracted; esca mop-like, a dense cluster of numerous, short, thread-like cirri; two additional cephalic dorsal-fin spines present as embedded vestiges, postcephalic dorsal-fin spines absent; soft dorsal fin with 10 to 12 rays, anal fin with 5 to 7 rays, pectoral fins narrow and paddle-like, with 10 to 15 soft rays. Skin densely covered with small to minute spine-like scales that are somewhat similar both in shape and feel to placoid scales of some sharks. Single open lateral-line canal on body joining conspicuous canals on head and extending posteriorly to proximal portion of caudal fin; lateral line proper with 17 to 42 neuromasts (Caruso, 1989a, b).
Color generally pink, reddish, orange, or rose-colored; some species with pale diffuse spots of yellow or olive green.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
|Specimen Records:||113||Public Records:||17|
|Specimens with Sequences:||104||Public Species:||6|
|Specimens with Barcodes:||101||Public BINs:||6|
|Species With Barcodes:||24|
These are bottom-dwelling fishes found on the continental slopes of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, at depths of up to at least 2,460 m (8,070 ft). Of the two genera in the family, Chaunacops typically occurs at deeper depths than Chaunax, but there is considerable overlap.
They have large, globose bodies and short, compressed tails, and are covered with small, spiny scales. The largest are about 30 centimetres (12 in) in length. The first dorsal fin ray is modified into a short bioluminescent lure which dangles forward over the mouth, which is turned upwards so as to be nearly vertical. The sensory canals of the lateral lines are especially conspicuous.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Chaunacidae" in FishBase. February 2006 version.
- Bertelsen, E. & Pietsch, T.W. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 140. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
- John H. Caruso (2005). "Chaunacidae". Tree of Life web project. Retrieved 3 April 2006.
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