Lanternfish typically have a slender, compressed body covered in small, silvery deciduous cycloid scales (ctenoid in four species), a large bluntly rounded head, large elliptical to round lateral eyes (dorsolateral in Protomyctophum species), and a large terminal mouth with jaws closely set with rows of small teeth. The fins are generally small, with a single high dorsal fin, a forked caudal fin, and an adipose fin. The anal fin is supported by a cartilaginous plate at its base, and originates under, or slightly behind, the rear part of the dorsal fin. The pectoral fins, usually with eight rays, may be large and well-developed to small and degenerate, or completely absent in a few species. In some species, such as those of the genus Lampanyctus, the pectorals are greatly elongated. Most lanternfish have a gas bladder, but it degenerates or fills with lipids during the maturation of a few species. The lateral line is uninterrupted.
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