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Becker, George C. / Fishes of Wisconsin

Drum family - sciaenidae,   pp. 955-962 PDF (3.4 MB)

Page 955

Drum Family 
  Only a single species of the drum family is known from Wisconsin. It 
is the only strictly freshwater member of a large number of saltwater 
forms, some of which occasionally move into nearby freshwater habi- 
tats. In the United States and Canada, 33 species in 18 genera are known
(Robins et al. 1980). The drums are particularly well represented in Pan-
ama, and they should be thought of as primarily fishes of the sandy 
shores of tropical seas, although various members have traveled far in 
habit and form (Breder 1948). The family contains about 160 species, and
has a fossil record beginning in the Paleocene. 
  The skull consists of heavy bones characterized by large cavities, which
are adaptations for the mucous glands of the lateral line system. The 
jaws contain many small, sharp teeth in broad bands. The lower pha- 
ryngeal arches are large, sometimes fused, and contain buttonlike teeth 
for crushing. The spiny and soft dorsal fins are only slightly connected;
the anal fin has two spines. Ctenoid scales cover the head and the body.
The lateral line, which extends to the end of the caudal fin, is distinc-
  Another distinctive feature of the drum family is the large otolith lo-
cated in the sacculus of the inner ear. In the freshwater drum, the oto-
lith has white enameled surfaces, and is provided with peculiar grooves 
and markings. If an otolith is cut into thin sections and examined under
a microscope, the layers formed in successive years are clearly visible as
alternating light and dark zones. By a study of the otoliths, it is possible
to obtain the age of any individual fish. Because of its toothlike nature
and size, the otolith is often used as a "lucky bone" by youthful
men. When polished, otoliths may be converted into attractive jewelry. 

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