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True Eels, Eels

Compiler and date details

3 October 2018 - Dianne J. Bray, John R. Paxton, Jennifer E. Gates & Douglass F. Hoese

18 August 2012 - Dianne J. Bray, John R. Paxton, Jennifer E. Gates & Douglass F. Hoese


The order Anguilliformes, as treated here, comprises 20 families with about 820 species in four suborders: Anguilloidei, Congroidei, Muraenoidei and Saccopharyngoidei (Wiley & Johnson 2010, Tang & Fielitz 2013). Nelson et al. (2016) recognised 19 families with about 938 species. Nelson (2006) followed Robins (1989) in placing members of the Saccopharyngoidei in their own order, whereas morphological analyses of Forey et al. (1996) and molecular analyses of Inoue et al. (2004) placed the saccopharyngoids within the Anguilliformes. Johnson et al. (2011) described a new monotypic family, genus and species of true eel with a definite caudal fin. The species is considered to be the most primitive living member of the Anguilliformes. Tang & Fielitz (2013) provided a molecular phylogeny of the family Muraenidae with a revised classification of true eels. Nelson et al (2016) recognised 8 suborders based on molecular studies including that of Santini et al (2013).

True eels live in a variety of diverse habitats from fresh water and shallow coastal waters, to bathypelagic waters and the abyssal plains of the deep sea. Species have continuous dorsal, caudal and anal fins are continuous, and lack pelvic fins. All have a unique ribbon-like leptocephalus larva, a feature shared with the Albuliformes, Elopiformes and Notacanthiformes. Adults and larvae of several species are discussed in Böhlke (1989).


General References

Böhlke, E.B. (ed.) 1989. Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Volume One: Orders Anguilliformes and Saccopharyngiformes. Volume Two: Leptocephali. Yale University : The Sears Foundation for Marine Research Part 9, 1055 pp.

Forey, P.L., Littlewood, D.T.J., Ritchie, P. & Meyer, A. 1996. Interrelationships of elopomorph fishes. pp. 175-192 in Stiassny, M.L.J., Parenti, L.R. & Johnson, G.D. (eds). Interrelationships of Fishes. San Diego : Academic Press 496 pp.

Inoue, J.G., Miya, M., Tsukamoto, K. & Nishida, M. 2004. Mitogenomic evidence for the monophyly of elopomorph fishes (Teleostei) and the evolutionary origin of the leptocephalus larva. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32(1): 274-286 [Date published July 2004]

Johnson, D.G., Ida, H., Sakaue, J., Sado, T., Asahida, T. & Miya, M. 2011. A 'living fossil' eel (Anguilliformes: Protoanguillidae, fam. nov.) from an undersea cave in Palau. Proceedings of the Royal Society B [Date published published online 17 August 2011]

Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp. [114]

Nelson, J.S., Grande, T.C. & Wilson, M.V.H. 2016. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons 5, 752 pp.

Robins, C.R. 1989. The phylogenetic relationships of the anguilliform fishes. pp. 9-23 in Böhlke, E.B. (ed.). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Orders Anguilliformes and Saccopharyngiformes. New Haven : The Sears Foundation of Marine Research, Yale University Pt 9 Vol. 1 655 pp.

Santini, F., Kong, X., Sorenson, L., Carnevale, G., Mehta, R.S., & Alfaro, M.E. 2013. A multi-locus molecular timescale for the origin and diversification of eels (Order: Anguilliformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69(3): 884-894

Tang, K.L. & Fielitz, C. 2013. Phylogeny of moray eels (Anguilliformes: Muraenidae), with a revised classification of true eels (Teleostei: Elopomorpha: Anguilliformes). Mitochondrial DNA 24(1): 55-66

Wiley, E.O. & Johnson, G.D. 2010. A teleost classification based on monophyletic groups. pp. 123-182 in Nelson, J.S., Schultze, H.-P. & Wilson, M.V.H. Origin and Phylogenetic Interrelationships of Teleosts. München, Germany : Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil 480 pp.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
05-Mar-2019 ELOPOMORPHA 25-Feb-2018 MODIFIED Dr Doug Hoese (AM)
01-May-2014 ANGUILLIFORMES 19-Feb-2014 MODIFIED Dr Dianne Bray
12-Feb-2010 (import)