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Lanternfish typically have a slender, compressed body covered in small, silvery deciduous cycloid scales (ctenoid in four species), a large bluntly rounded head, large elliptical to round lateral eyes (dorsolateral in Protomyctophum species), and a large terminal mouth with jaws closely set with rows of small teeth. The fins are generally small, with a single high dorsal fin, a forked caudal fin, and an adipose fin. The anal fin is supported by a cartilaginous plate at its base, and originates under, or slightly behind, the rear part of the dorsal fin. The pectoral fins, usually with eight rays, may be large and well-developed to small and degenerate, or completely absent in a few species. In some species, such as those of the genus Lampanyctus, the pectorals are greatly elongated. Most lanternfish have a gas bladder, but it degenerates or fills with lipids during the maturation of a few species. The lateral line is uninterrupted. In all but one species, Taaningichthys paurolychnus, a number of photophores (light-producing organs) are present these are paired and concentrated in ventrolateral rows on the body and head. Some may also possess specialised photophores on the caudal peduncle, in proximity to the eyes (e.g., the "headlights" of Diaphus species), and luminous patches at the base of the fins. The photophores emit a weak blue, green, or yellow light, and are known to be arranged in species-specific patterns. In some species, the pattern varies between males and fe...
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