Scopeloberyx opistopterus

Common Name

Shorthead Bigscale

Year Described

Parr, 1933


Dorsal Fin: II-III, 10-12
Anal Fin: I, 7-8
Pectoral Fin: 12-15
Pelvic Fin: I, 7-8
Caudal Fin: 9-10 branched, 2-4 procurrent rays
Lateral Scale Rows: 28-33
Gill Rakers: 13-17
Vertebrae: 25-27

Head with numerous bony ridges and pits. No post-temporal spines, projecting anterior spines, or raised bony crest on top of head. Preopercle and opercle margins relatively smooth or with weak spination. Gill rakers in first arch relatively few (19 or less). Anal fin origin under last few dorsal rays. Pectoral fin reaches last ray of dorsal fin. Pectoral fin inserted higher of body: distance between pectoral base and pelvic base greater than 10% (other Scopeloberyx are all under 5%). Pelvic fin origin well behind pectoral fin origin. Body scales large and easily shed.


Uniformly dark brown to black


Maximum size to 37mm SL but usually less than 28mm SL.


Collected from 0-6120m, with adult fish under 500m and juveniles toward the surface at night.


Widespread in the north Atlantic from off Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.


Kotlyar, A. N. 2005. A revision of the genus Scopeloberyx (Melamphaidae). Part 3. Species of the group S. opisthopterus. Journal of Ichthyology. v. 45 (no. 1): 16-27.

McEachran, J.D. and J.D. Fechhelm. 1998. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico. Volume 1: Myxiniformes to Gasterosteiformes. University of Texas Press, Austin. i-viii + 1-1112.

Moore, J. A., K. E. Hartel, J. E. Craddock, and J. K. Galbraith. 2003. An annotated list of deepwater fishes from off the New England region, with new area records. Northeastern Naturalist 10(2): 159-248.

Other Notes

The only other Atlantic Scopeloberyx with less than 19 gill rakers is S. bannikovi, which has the pectoral fin placement and body proportions as in the S. robustus complex (Kotlyar, 2005).