White-speckled snake-moray Uropterygius xanthopterus, copyright Sébastien Vasquez.

Belongs within: Anguilliformes.
Contains: Lycodontis, Gymnothorax.

The Muraenidae, morays, are powerful-headed marine eels found in tropical and subtropical waters.

Characters (from Böhlke et al. 1999): Small to very large eels (to 375 cm); body elongate, firm, muscular, and compressed; many species robust and powerful, some small species nearly worm-like. Dorsal profile of head above and behind eye raised due to the development of strong head muscles. Eyes well developed. Snout short to elongate, jaws usually equal. Anterior nostril tubular, near tip of snout. Posterior nostril high on head, above or before eye, a simple pore or in a tube. Mouth large, gape usually extending behind posterior margin of eye, lips without fleshy flange. Jaw teeth usually strong, in one or more rows, ranging from sharply pointed and depressible canines or fangs to blunt molars, teeth on vomer (roof of mouth) uniserial, biserial, or in a patch. Gill opening a small round hole or slit at midside. Dorsal and anal fins variously developed, from dorsal fin beginning on head and anal fin immediately behind anus, to both fins restricted to tail tip; dorsal and anal fins continuous with caudal fin around tail tip; pectoral and pelvic fins absent. Scales absent. Lateral-line pores absent on body except for one or two above and before gill opening (tiny dots may be present along lateral line on body, but these are not pores); pores on head almost always limited to four along upper jaw, three near tip of snout, and six on lower jaw; no pores behind eye or in supratemporal commissure.

    |    |--Channomuraena vittata (Richardson 1845) [incl. Scuticaria bennettii]BMS99
    |    |--ScuticariaBMS99
    |    |    |--S. okinawae (Jordan & Snyder 1901) [=Uropterygius okinawae]BMS99
    |    |    `--S. tigrina (Lesson 1828)BMS99
    |    |--Anarchias Jordan & Starks 1906BMS99, S62
    |    |    |--*A. allardicei Jordan & Starks 1906S62
    |    |    |--A. cantonensis Schultz 1943S62
    |    |    |--A. fuscus Smith 1962S62
    |    |    |--A. seychellensis Smith 1962S62
    |    |    `--A. vermiformis Smith 1962S62
    |    `--Uropterygius Ruppell 1835IM04, S62
    |         |--*U. concolor Rüppell 1838S62, BMS99 [=Gymnomuraena concolorS62]
    |         |--U. alboguttatus Smith 1962S62
    |         |--U. bennetti (Gunther 1870) [=Gymnomuraena bennetti; incl. G. brevicauda Regan 1903]S62
    |         |--U. fasciolatus (Regan 1909)M58 [=Gymnomuraena fasciolataM58; incl. U. goslinei McCosker & Randall 1977BMS99]
    |         |--U. fuscoguttatus Schultz 1953BMS99
    |         |--U. inornatus Gosline 1958BMS99
    |         |--U. kamar McCosker & Randall 1977BMS99
    |         |--U. macrocephalus (Bleeker 1865)BMS99
    |         |--U. makatei Gosline 1958BMS99
    |         |--U. marmoratus (Lacépède 1803) [=Gymnomuraena marmorata]S62
    |         |--U. micropterus (Bleeker 1852)BMS99 [=Gymnomuraena micropterusM58]
    |         |--U. nagoensis Hatooka 1984BMS99
    |         |--U. polyspilus (Regan 1909) [=Gymnomuraena polyspila]S62
    |         |--U. sealei Whitley 1932C65
    |         |--U. supraforatus (Regan 1909)BMS99
    |         |--U. tigrinus (Lesson 1828) [=Ichthyophis tigrinus, Gymnomuraena tigrina, Muraena tigrina non Ruppell 1828]S62
    |         `--U. xanthopterus Bleeker 1859BMS99 [=Gymnomuraena xanthopterusS62]
         |--Monopenchelys acuta (Parr 1930)BMS99
         |--Rhinomuraena Garman 1888BMS99, C65
         |    `--*R. quaesita Garman 1889 (see below for synonymy)S62
         |--Gymnomuraena Lacepede 1803BMS99, S62
         |    `--G. zebra (Shaw 1797)BMS99, S62 (see below for synonymy)
         |--Pseudechidna Bleeker 1863BMS99, S62
         |    `--*P. brummeri (Bleeker 1858)S62 (see below for synonymy)
         |--Strophidon McClelland 1844BMS99, S62
         |    `--S. sathate (Ham-Buch 1822) [incl. *S. longicaudata]S62
         |--Muraena Linnaeus 1758S62
         |    |--*M. helena Linnaeus 1758S62
         |    |--M. anguilla Linnaeus 1758L58
         |    |--M. caeca Linnaeus 1758L58
         |    |--M. conger Linnaeus 1758L58
         |    |--M. myrus Linnaeus 1758L58
         |    `--M. pardalis Schlegel 1847C65 [=Gymnothorax pardalisS62]
         |    |--E. bayeri (Schultz 1953)BMS99
         |    |--E. bikiniensis (Schultz 1953)BMS99
         |    |--E. kamara Böhlke & Böhlke 1980BMS99
         |    |--E. nigricansF16
         |    |--E. pardalis (Temminck & Schlegel 1846)BMS99
         |    `--E. schismatorhynchus (Bleeker 1853)BMS99
         `--Echidna Forster 1777IM04, C65
              |--E. nebulosa (Ahl 1789) (see below for synonymy)S62
              |--E. amblyodon (Bleeker 1856)BMS99
              |--E. catenata [=Muraena catenata]F16
              |--E. delicatula (Kaup 1856) [=Poecilophis delicatulus]M58
              |--E. fascigula (Peters 1855) [=Muraena fascigula, Poecilophis fascigula]S62
              |--E. leucotaenia Schultz 1943S62
              |--E. polyzona (Richardson 1844)C65 (see below for synonymy)
              |--E. rhodochilus Bleeker 1863BMS99
              |--E. unicolor Schultz 1953S62
              `--E. xanthospilos (Bleeker 1859)BMS99
Muraenidae incertae sedis:
  Thyrsoidea Kaup 1856C65
    `--T. macrura (Bleeker 1854)S62 (see below for synonymy)
  Enchelynassa Kaup 1855C65
    `--*E. canina (Quoy & Gaimard 1824) [=Muraena canina]S62
  Eomuraena sagittidens Casier 1967P93
  Rabula Jordan & Davis 1888C65
  ‘Leptocephalus’ euryurus Lea 1913C65
  ‘Leptocephalus’ grassianus Ancona 1928C65
  ‘Leptocephalus’ latus Eigenmann & Kennedy 1902C65
  ‘Leptocephalus’ muraenoides Ancona 1928C65
  ‘Leptocephalus’ similis Lea 1913C65
  ‘Leptocephalus’ vermicularis Southwell & Prashad 1919C65

Echidna nebulosa (Ahl 1789) [=Muraena nebulosa, Gymnothorax nebulosa; incl. M. ophis Ruppell 1828 non Linn. 1758, M. variegata Richardson 1844, *Echidna variegata, Gymnothorax variegata]S62

Echidna polyzona (Richardson 1844)C65 [=Muraena polyzonaS62, Gymnothorax polyzonaS62, Leihala polyzonaM58; incl. Echidna leihala Jenkins 1902JR10, E. obscura Jenkins 1902JR10, E. psalion Jenkins 1902JR10, Poecilophis tritor Vaillant & Sauvage 1875JR10, E. vincta Jenkins 1902JR10, E. zonophoea Jordan & Evermann 1902JR10]

Gymnomuraena zebra (Shaw 1797)BMS99, S62 [=Gymnothorax zebraS62, Arndha zebraM58, Echidna zebraS62, Muraena zebraM58; incl. Gymnothorax doliata Lacépède 1801M58, M. molendinaris Bennett 1833S62]

*Pseudechidna brummeri (Bleeker 1858)S62 [=Muraena brummeriS62, Strophidon brummeriS62; incl. S. polyodon Bleeker 1878M58]

*Rhinomuraena quaesita Garman 1889 [incl. R. ambonensis Barbour 1908, Muraena tentaculata Gudger 1929, Gymnothorax tentaculata]S62

Thyrsoidea macrura (Bleeker 1854)S62 [=Muraena macrurusS62, Evenchelys macrurusNDS73, Rhabdura macruraNDS73, Thyrsoidea macrurusS62; incl. *T. longissima Kaup 1856S62]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BMS99] Böhlke, E. B., J. E. McCosker & D. G. Smith. 1999. Muraenidae. Morays. In: Carpenter, K. E., & V. H. Niem (eds) The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific vol. 3. Batoid fishes, chimaeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae) pp. 1643–1657. FAO: Rome.

[C65] Castle, P. H. J. 1965. Muraenid leptocephali in Australasian waters. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Zoology 7 (3): 57–84.

[F16] Fowler, H. W. 1916. The fishes of Trinidad, Grenada, and St. Lucia, British West Indies. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 67 (3): 520–548.

[IM04] Inoue, J. G., M. Miya, K. Tsukamoto & M. Nishida. 2004. Mitogenomic evidence for the monophyly of elopomorph fishes (Teleostei) and the evolutionary origin of the leptocephalus larva. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 274–286.

[JR10] Jordan, D. S., & R. E. Richardson. 1910. Check-list of the species of fishes known from the Philippine archipelago. Bureau of Printing: Manila.

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[M58] Munro, I. S. R. 1958. The fishes of the New Guinea region: A check-list of the fishes of New Guinea incorporating records of species collected by the Fisheries Survey Vessel “Fairwind” during the years 1948 to 1950. Papua and New Guinea Agricultural Journal 10 (4): 97–369 (reprinted: 1958. Territory of Papua and New Guinea Fisheries Bulletin no. 1).

[NDS73] Nair, R. V., K. Dorairaj & R. Soundararajan. 1973. The record giant moray eel, Thyrsoidea macrura (Bleeker). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 69 (3): 664–667.

[P93] Patterson, C. 1993. Osteichthyes: Teleostei. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 621–656. Chapman & Hall: London.

[S62] Smith, J. L. B. 1962. The moray eels of the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Ichthyological Bulletin 23: 421–444.

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