Leptocephali of the Ophichthid Genera Ahlia, Myrophis, Ophichthus, Pisodonophis, Callechelys, Letharchus, and Apterichtus on the Atlantic Continental Shelf of the United States
Abstract:Twelve leptocephali of the family Ophichthidae are described and illustrated. Eleven types are specifically identified: Ahlia egmontis, Myrophis punctatus, M. platyrhynchus, Ophichthus ophis, O. melanoporus, O. ocellatus, O. gomesi, Pisodonophis cruentifer, Letharchus velifer, Apterichtus ansp, and A. kendalli. One type is assigned to the genus Callechelys. Distribution maps showing capture locations on the Atlantic continental shelf are included for each type. Monthly length-frequencies are provided for 10 of the more abundant types. Morphometric tables showing changes in bodily proportions with growth are included for nine types.
The larval evidence supports McCosker's (1977) removing Echelus from the subfamily Myrophinae and reassigning it to the Ophichthinae.
We discuss the generic identification of nominal Pisodonophis cruentifer, acknowledge the dissimilarity of that species to eastern Atlantic and Pacific Pisodonophis, but question assigning P. cruentifer to Ophichthus (McCosker, 1977). Western Atlantic P. cruentifer larvae are shown to be significantly different from Ophichthus larvae.
The degree of gut looping in ophichthid leptocephali is related to the amount and nature of pigmentation, and both larval characters are related to body elongation and fin reduction in adults. The leptocephali of Ahlia have weakly swollen guts and scattered pigment patterns and the adults are relatively thick-bodied and retain a wide-based pectoral fin and high median fins. The leptocephali of Apterichtus have strongly looped guts and consolidated pigment patterns and the adults are relatively elongate and lack all fins. Genera between these extremes display a progression of both larval and adult characters.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: July 1, 1978
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