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Species: Trachyscorpia cristulata, Atlantic Thornyhead

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no pit behind eyes
crest under eye: many small spines
pectoral: top point, 21-24
pectoral: top rays branch, lower rays fleshy
LL complete
preopercle: spine I longest
scales rough

Trachyscorpia cristulata (Goode & Bean, 1896)

Atlantic Thornyhead

Head large (47-48% SL), snout short; head bones strong with well developed spines; no pit on top of head behind eyes; eye moderately large; sides of roof of mouth with teeth; bone under front of eye with 2 spines, 1st points out and to rear, 2nd points to rear; longitudinal crest under & behind eye with many small spines; preopercle with 4-5 spines, 1st spine longest & with a small supplemental spine; no slit behind last gill arch; dorsal fin XII, 9.5 (rarely 8.5); anal fin III, 5; pectoral not wedge shaped, fin bilobed with longest rays at top, 21-24, rays 2 to 10-12 branched, lower rays fleshy in large fish; scales rough, in 57-67 vertical rows; scales on cheek, and between and behind eyes; lateral line with tubed scales, complete, extending to base of tail fin.

Head, body and fins red, head and body mottled with brown blotches and small white spots, and pale areas on top of head and on top of back.

Reaches ~55 cm.

Lives on hard bottoms

Depth range 140-2500 m.

TransAtlantic, the West Atlantic subspecies T. cristulata cristulata present from Masschusetts to the Gulf of Mexico; Cuba and NE Yucatan.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Offshore
  • Offshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom only
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Mud
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 55
Depth Range Min
  • 140
Depth Range Max
  • 2500