Unusual caudal spines in the surgeonfish Zebrasoma scopas
Surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) are found in tropical and subtropical marine ecosystems and typically comprise a core component of coral reef fish assemblages (Randall 1955). The surgeonfishes are disparate in terms of their morphology, feeding habits and behavioural tendencies, yet all share the distinct, unifying feature of at least one pair of scalpel-like modified scales on their caudal peduncle (Randall 1955) which can be used for defensive or territorial interactions (Schober and Ditrich 1992). Indeed, the common name ‘surgeonfishes’ is derived from the possession of these scalpel-like caudal spines.
We thank S. Askew and V. Huertas for assistance with scanning electron microscopy and the Australian Research Council for financial support (DRB).
- Randall JE (1955) A contribution to the biology of the Acanthuridae (surgeon fishes). Ph.D. thesis, University of Hawaii, HawaiiGoogle Scholar