Research project: Illustrated keys to the lanternfishes (Myctophidae) from Australian territorial waters


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John Paxton and Alan Williams

John Paxton and Alan Williams
Photographer: Mark McGrouther © Australian Museum

Museum investigators

External investigators

  • Alan Williams, CSIRO Marine Labs


Little deep-sea collecting in the midwaters of Australia was undertaken before the 1970s and fewer than 10 lanternfish species were recorded from Australia. Over decades of collecting, one of us (John Paxton) compiled a draft key to the increasing number of species, with an eventual revision of the Australian species planned. From the 1980s the draft key was in use in a number of marine laboratories around the country. 96 lanternfish species were recorded in the 1989 Zoological Catalogue of Australia, Pisces, but the revision was never completed.

In 2003 the two of us were on a Tasman Sea expedition and agreed at least the key should be published, and expanded to include all territorial waters. Current study of previously unworked Coral Sea material, plus the Antarctic species, has increased the count to more than 135 species in 28 genera. Each genus and species will have a figure within the keys, plus additional data on distribution, maximum and maturation sizes, and end notes detailing new records and information. There will not be descriptive accounts for each species separate from the keys.

Dr John Paxton , Senior Fellow
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Tags fishes, ichthyology, Myctophidae, Paxton, lanternfishes,