Opistognathus aurifrons

Common Name

Yellowhead Jawfish

Year Described

Jordan & Thompson, 1905


Dorsal Fin: XI, 15-17
Anal Fin: III, 14-17
Pelvic Fin: I, 5
Pectoral Fin: 18-21
Gill Rakers: 40-62 (lower limb of first arch)
Vertebrae: 10 precaudal, 15-17 caudal; 25-27 total

Maxilla of males without thin, flexible posterior extension. Jaws huge; reaching well past rear margin of orbit. Premaxillary and dentary with teeth. Vomer with 0-2 teeth. Lateral line extends posteriorly to between 5th and 8th segmented dorsal ray. Nape, head, pectoral base, and area above lateral line scaleless. Rest of body fully scaled. Lateral scale rows: 81-94. Dorsal fin spines slender with sharp, flexible tips. Anterior nostril without a cirrus. Median fins broad and rounded. Pelvic fin very elongate. Caudal fin large and rounded.


Body pearly white with faint blue to turquoise hues, and faint white chevrons on mid-side. Head pale to bright yellowish anterior to gill cover. No blue line markings on head. Eye with blue ring on iris. Anterior dorsal fin turquoise, grading to bright blue rearward. Rest of fins bright blue. Pectoral fin whitish.


Maximum size to 97mm SL.


A shallow water jawfish living in sandy bottoms and rubble zones near reefs up to 59m. Hovers vertically over burrows in substrate.


Southern Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the central Caribbean islands.


Böhlke, J.E. 1967. A new sexually dimorphic jawfish (Opistognathus; Opistognathidae) from the Bahamas. Notulae Naturae (Philadelphia) No. 407: 1-12.

Smith-Vaniz, W. F. 1997. Five new species of jawfishes (Opistognathus: Opistognathidae) from the western Atlantic Ocean. Bulletin of Marine Science v. 60 (3): 1074-1128.

Other Notes

It is not clear whether this species and the undescribed Bluebar Jawfish overlap in range in the southern Caribbean. Many records of this species in the southern Caribbean may be the undescribed form.