New Fish Order

Fig. 1 from Miya et al.

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchIt’s easy to be a new species, even easy to be a new genus. You got to be just a little different. Yes…yes…we are all unique and special snowflakes. But to get your own order, you got to be really different. If you are the taxonomist erecting a new order, you got have big cojones and strong evidence.

Currently there are about 70 odd fish orders. Scratch that…70 odd plus one. Miya et al. erect a new order based on both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. The new order centers on the monotypic family (only one species in the family) Stylephoridae. The single species is Stylephorus chordatus, an extremely rare deep-sea fish affectionately referred to as Tube Eye. As you might guess, the DNA suggest that a new order Stylephoriformes is needed as the species as no close affinities with any other species. Genetic evidence suggest the “closest” relative is the Gadiformes (cod and allies) as opposed to the Lampridiformes previously suggested.

Tube-eye is a strange fish indeed. It possesses a pair of telescopic eyes that lie anteriorly when not feeding (B above). During feeding, the head is oriented up and back and the mouth is moved forward (C). The mouth cavity is balloonable and can greatly expand its size (38x). This creates negative pressure and provides suction for capturing prey.

Miya, M., Holcroft, N.I., Satoh, T.P., Yamaguchi, M., Nishida, M., Wiley, E. (2007). Mitochondrial genome and a nuclear gene indicate a novel phylogenetic position of deep-sea tube-eye fish (Stylephoridae). Ichthyological Research, 54(4), 323-332. DOI: 10.1007/s10228-007-0408-0

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

3 Replies to “New Fish Order”

  1. WOW! Only a few weeks into the new year and I already know who is going to win weird animal of the year award. Nice find Craig.

  2. The mouth cavity is balloonable and can greatly expand its size (38x). This creates negative pressure and provides suction for capturing prey.

    Just goes to show what a creature will do to get a good meal! LOL! I am a big eater myself but I think this one has got me beat! LOL!
    Dave Briggs :~)

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