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Keywords:

  • Acanthomorpha;
  • Percomorpha;
  • skeletal anatomy

Abstract

The prowfish, Zaprora silenus, is the sole member of the family Zaproridae. It is a large, relatively elongate species with a robust head and body, and it feeds primarily on jellyfishes. Although the larvae and juveniles are pelagic, the adults are demersal, and the species is widely distributed from Southern California around the Pacific Rim to Hokkaido, Japan. The stichaeid affinities of this species have long been recognized, and the family is currently placed, along with the Stichaeidae, in the Zoarcoidei. Previous anatomical studies of Zaprora have been based on relatively few specimens from a limited geographic range and have not included cleared and stained (c&s) specimens. Here, we provide a complete description of the osteology of the prowfish, based on a large series of specimens representing a broad ontogenetic range, including a series of c&s specimens. Our results contradict the findings of previous authors in the structure of the pharyngeal teeth, presence of the pelvic girdle, and the placement of the first dorsal pterygiophore. However, we concur with the findings of previous morphological and molecular phylogenetic studies, which indicate that the prowfish is probably most closely related to at least some members of the Stichaeidae. J. Morphol. 274:1143–1163, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.