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Author: Linnaeus, 1758

Apterichthus caecus Linnaeus, 1758

Diagnosis: body very elongate, snake-like, cylindrical; anus distinctly nearer to snout than to caudal extremity. Snout pointed: lower jaw symphysis slightly before level of anterior border of eye, which is small, under skin; inter-orbital convex. Anterior nostril opening as a short tube on underside of snout; posterior nostril a pore protected by a digitiform fold over ridge of upper lip at level of anterior border of eye. Teeth conical, acute and slightly curved, uniserial in both jaws; 5 premaxillary teeth forming a V and small teeth in 1 or 2 rows on vomer. Gill openings ventral, crescentiform. Fins totally absent; caudal extremity hardened. Lateral line with 54-55 preanal pores, 8 prebranchial; 5 supra-temporal pores. Vertebrae: total 135-137; abdominal 59-62. Colour: ochre, slightly darker dorsally. Size: to 60 cm.

Habitat: benthic on the shelf, burrowing in sandy areas in shallow waters. Food: no data. Reproduction: very few data, spawning in May, June in Mediterranean, eggs 3-3.6 mm diameter; leptocephali probably found in Gulf of Guinea (Blache, 1977).

Distribution: Balearic Is. and probably all western Mediterranean; eastern North Atlantic, the Azores and probably coast of West Africa.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. Kaup, 1860c: 270, pl. 3 (fig. A) (Leptocephalus kefersteini pro parte) | Grassi & Calandruccio, 1896b: 349 | Schmidt, 1912b: pl. 4 | Grassi, 1913: 121, pl. 7 (fig. 1-12); 1915: 703, pl. 2 (fig. 3-5) | Bertin, 1926: 330, tab. 3, 6 | Ancona, 1931: 135, fig. 128-132 | Sparta, 1938a: 6, fig. 11-12; 1939c: 11 | Thomopoulos, 1952a: 330, fig. 5; 1954: 8 | Castle, 1969: 18, 44 | Blache, 1977: 275 (leptocephali).
Otoliths (sagitta). No data.

European finless eel (Apterichthus caecus)