Animal Species:Unicorn Leatherjacket, Aluterus monoceros (Linnaeus, 1758)
The Unicorn Leatherjacket is usually brown to grey with brown spots on the upper sides and a dark caudal fin. It can be recognised by its highly compressed body and the posterior placement of the eyes on the head.
A Unicorn Leatherjacket at Fly Point Marine Reserve, Port Stephens
Photographer: David and Leanne Atkinson © David and Leanne Atkinson
Standard Common Name
The Unicorn Leatherjacket can be recognised by its highly compressed body and the posterior placement of the eyes on the head. The dorsal and ventral head profiles are both convex. The dorsal fin spine is slender.
The species is usually brown to grey with brown spots on the upper sides. The caudal fin is dark.
Two species of Aluterus occur in Australian waters. The second is the Scribbled Leatherjacket.
The species grows to 75 cm in length.
The Unicorn Leatherjacket occurs worldwide.
In Australia it is known from south-western Western Australia around the tropical north of the country and south to the central coast of New South Wales.
The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.
Distribution by collection data
The species occurs in tropical marine waters.
- Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
- Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
- Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology