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Oceanic Anglerfishes

Extraordinary Diversity in the Deep Sea

Theodore W. Pietsch Ph.D.

Publication Year: 2009

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.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 2-2

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

...My purpose in writing this book is to bring together a diverse and previously scattered array of facts and data surrounding an astonishing assemblage of deep-water oceanic fishes commonly referred to as the devilfishes or seadevils, and scientifically known as the deep-sea ceratioid anglerfishes. Although rarely seen by anyone but a small handful...

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pp. xi-xii

...Many people have generously given their help with this study by providing loans of specimens or by making collection data available. Many others have assisted by making the author feel welcome during visits to their respective institutions. To all of these people I extend my sincere gratitude: Rafael Bañón Díaz, Asociación Científica de Biología Marina...

PART I: The Biology of Deep-Sea Anglerfishes

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1. Introduction and Historical Perspective

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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...

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2. What Makes an Anglerfish?

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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...

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3. Biodiversity

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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...

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4. Evolutionary Relationships

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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...

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5. Geographic Distribution

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pp. 197-228

...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 these animals is truly vast. Taken by themselves, most of the 11 families and even some of the genera and species are almost as wide spread as the full distribution of all species...

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6. Bioluminescence and Luring

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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...

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7. Locomotion, Food, and Feeding

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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...

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8. Reproduction and Early Life History

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pp. 277-308

...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 H. Grönwold, in Regan, 1925b:387–388). A short time...

PART II: A Classification of Deep-Sea Anglerfishes

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pp. 309-312

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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...

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Families, Genera, and Species of the Ceratioidei

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pp. 319-510

...Metamorphosed females of the family are further distinguished from those of all other ceratioid families in having a single oval-shaped ovary (ovaries are paired in all other ceratioid families; see Pietsch, 1972a:24, fig. 5). They differ further in having the following combination of character states: A supraethmoid is present. The frontals are narrowly separated...


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pp. 511-518


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pp. 519-520

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pp. 521-522

...The systematic revision presented in this volume is based on metamorphosed stages of some 6,310 females and 785 males, comprising as far as possible all available material worldwide, borrowed from or examined at the following 90 institutions...


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pp. 523-526


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pp. 527-546

Illustration Credits

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pp. 547-548


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pp. 549-557

E-ISBN-13: 9780520942554
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520255425

Page Count: 576
Publication Year: 2009