An Overdue Family Reunion
Two's Company - Hairy fish and Tapetails
In 1956, the hairy fish and tapetails were described and placed in two distinct families, Mirapinnidae and Taeniophoridae, respectively. Their characterization was based on 120 tapetail specimens up to 45mm (1.7 inches) long that were compared with the only specimen of hairyfish ever collected. With the exception of one individual, all of the specimens were collected near the ocean surface – at most 200 meters (656 feet) deep.
Tapetails are characterized by a long extension that looks like a streamer trailing behind their body. Hairyfishes have "hair-like" papillae covering their entire body. These two types of fishes share some traits, including a relatively large mouth that points upward, large pelvic fins near their head, and no external lateral line or scales. The tapetails were eventually placed within the family Mirapinnidae with the hairyfishes. Interestingly, scientists noted that like the whalefishes, mirapinnids also have a sexual anomaly – every specimen examined was sexually immature.
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