Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Website Search Box
Search Item
{search_item}

Department of Vertebrate Zoology

Division of Fishes

Mirapinnidae, the group of fishes
that contains tapetails and hairyfishes
Sandra Raredon
© Smithsonian Institution

An Ichthyological Family Reunion

Meet the Family Members

Solving the Puzzle

Read the Scientific ArticleBiology Letters, 5(2): 235-239

Three's a Crowd - Bignose Fishes

Bignose Fish
The bignose fishes, or Megalomycteridae, are covered in a mosaic pattern of scales and have enlarged nasal organs, seen here. These organs are supported by large nasal bones to which the upper jaw bones are fused, rendering them immobile.
Photo credit: Dave Johnson
The bignose fishes, or Megalomycteridae, are covered in a mosaic pattern of scales and have enlarged nasal organs, seen here. These organs are supported by large nasal bones to which the upper jaw bones are fused, rendering them immobile.

The final group of players in the story is the bignose fishes, or Megalomycteridae, which were first described in 1966 and were named for the nose-like bulge on their snout that contains a pair of enlarged nasal sensory organs. Their body, which grows to 68mm (2.7 inches) long, is covered by large, circular scales arranged in a mosaic pattern. Most of the 65 specimens were found at least 1000 meters (3,280 feet) deep, like the whalefishes. Also like the whalefishes, the bignose fishes lack pelvic fins.

Two characteristics of the bignose fishes were particularly confounding to scientists: their upper jaw bones are fused to each other and to the bones that support the enlarged nasal organs, so that they are essentially immobilized; and – as noted by John Paxton during his analysis of the whalefishes—all bignose specimens are males.

<< Hairy Fish and Tapetails

The Breakthrough Discovery >>

[ TOP ]