Lophius, the goosefish, enters to LRT

… and not surprisingly
Lophius is a sister to two other bottom dwellers, Electrophorus (the electric eel) and Hippoglossus (the halibut) in the large reptile tree (LRT, 1500 taxa; subset Fig. 5).

Figure 1. Lophius in vivo. The pelvic fins are hidden from view beneath the large pectoral fins. So Lophius is all mouth and tail. Inset shows a larva/hatchling not to scale.

Figure 1. Lophius in vivo. The pelvic fins are hidden from view beneath the large pectoral fins. So Lophius is all mouth and tail. Inset shows a larva/hatchling not to scale.

The Lophius skull
has more space than bone (Fig. 2) and its flexibility, morphing from flat to wide open, sucks in small prey swimming too close to that wicked toothy gaping mouth. Like its sisters, many cheek bones are absent or greatly reduced in this taxon. Atypical for fish, the intertemporal contacts the tabular and the supratemporal rims both laterally. I think the vomers have the longest teeth, and they are rotated toward the throat… unless the premaxilla has two rows of teeth… which seems less likely.

Figure 2. The flexible Lophius skull can flatten or expand, sucking in small fish and other prey items. The prefrontal and most cheek bones are missing here. If those are vomers, those are the largest teeth in the jaws. Otherwise the premaxillae have two rows of teeth.

Figure 2. The flexible Lophius skull can flatten or expand, sucking in small fish and other prey items. The prefrontal and most cheek bones are missing here. If those are vomers, those are the largest teeth in the jaws. Otherwise the premaxillae have two rows of teeth.

Lophius americanus (Rafinesque 1810; up to 1.5m in length) is the extant goosefish or monkfish. The closest relative in the LRT is the electric eel, Electrophorus (Fig. 3). The pelvic fins are small and anteroventral to the pectoral fins.

Figure 2. Skull of the electric eel (Electrophorus). Compare to the halibut in figure 1.

Figure 3. Skull of the electric eel (Electrophorus). Compare to Lophius (Fig. 2).

So far,
every additional fish taxon simply drops into place, rather than pushing taxa into other nodes. That means a good way to build a cladogram is a taxon at a time.

Figure 4. Electrophorus, the electric eel, in vivo.

Figure 4. Electrophorus, the electric eel, in vivo.

Figure 3. Subset of the LRT focusing on bony ray fin fish and kin. Here Devonian Cheirolepis nests with extant deep sea Malacosteus.

Figure 3. Subset of the LRT focusing on bony ray fin fish and kin. Here Devonian Cheirolepis nests with extant deep sea Malacosteus.


References
Rafinesque CS 1810. Caratteri di alcuni nuovi generi e nuove specie di animali e piante della sicilia, con varie osservazioni sopra i medisimi. Per le stampe di Sanfilippo: Palermo, Italy. pp. 105, 20 fold. Pl., online

wiki/Goosefish
wiki/Lophius
wiki/Lophius_americanus

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