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This species generally grows to a length of 11 centimetres (4.3 in). P. macrura and P. heterura differ in that P. heterura has scales in a pit between the posterior nostrils while P. macrura does not (except for a population of P. heterura found off the coasts of West India, South Africa, and Mozambique, which may be a different species). These species do not differ much in fin spine, fin ray, gill raker counts, and most body proportions. Their differences lie in a small difference in head proportions. Also, in adults, the upper margin of the eye of P. heterura is below the base of the first dorsal fin spine, while it is above in P. macrura (this trait is not consistent in juveniles, in which the eye margin may be below in both species).
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