Order

CHAPTER

phylum class subclass • order monotypic order suborder family

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Lizardfishes are long-bodied and have a large head that looks like the head of a reptile. Some of the relatives have a first ray on the dorsal fin that is much longer than the other rays. The dorsal (DOOR-suhl) fin is the fin along the midline of the back. Rays are supporting rods in the fins. Other relatives have a series of red bars on their pelvic fins, or the rear pair, corresponding to the rear legs of four-footed animals. These fishes have yellow spots just above the lateral line and have rows of faint blue spots above and below the lateral line. The lateral (LAT-uhr-uhl) line is a series of pores and tiny tubes along each side of a fish's body and is used for sensing vibrations. The fins are pale white to clear. Some lizardfish relatives have a pencil-shaped body, a flat head with tiny eyes, and long, thick fin rays. Others have a long, sail-like dorsal fin that stretches from the head nearly to the tail. Still other relatives have tubular eyes that look like and are used as a telescope for detecting light in dim surroundings. Other relatives have fanglike teeth and lack scales.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Lizardfishes and their relatives live in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

HABITAT

Lizardfishes and their relatives live at the bottom or swim freely in open water. These fishes live at depths from warm, shallow water near the shore to water so deep that light is almost absent. The bottom-dwelling fishes rest on rubble, sand, coral, rock, seaweed, or mud.

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