Morphology Data of Mugil cephalus
Identification keys
Main Ref. Keith, P. and J. Allardi (coords.), 2001
Appearance refers to
Bones in OsteoBase

Sex attributes

Specialized organs no special organs
Different appearance males alike females
Different colors males alike females
Remarks Externally, males are difficult to distinguish from females, except for the more slender shape of males when sexually ripening (Ref. 28727).

Descriptive characteristics of juvenile and adult

Striking features none
Body shape lateral fusiform / normal
Cross section circular
Dorsal head profile more or less straight
Type of eyes more or less normal
Type of mouth/snout more or less normal
Position of mouth terminal
Type of scales cycloid scales

Diagnosis: body stout, cylindrical in cross-section, slightly compressed; head broad and flattened (Ref. 57400). Well developed adipose eyelid (Ref. 40476, 57400) covering most of pupil (Ref. 57400). Upper lip thin and without papillae (Ref. 57400), with 1-2 outer rows of small, moderately close-set, unicuspid teeth and up to 6 inner rows of smaller, bicuspid teeth (Ref. 81659). Lower lip with outer row of small unicuspid teeth and sometimes 1 or more inner rows of smaller, bicuspid teeth (Ref. 81659). Hind end of upper jaw reaching a vertical line from anterior eye margin; maxillary pad not visible below corner of mouth when closed; origin of 1st dorsal fin nearer to snout tip than to caudal-fin base (Ref. 57400). Anterior parts and bases of 2nd dorsal and anal fins with a moderately dense coverage of scales (Ref. 57400, 81659). Pectoral axillary process (Ref. 57400). 13-15 scale rows between origins of dorsal and pelvic fins (Ref. 57400, 81659). Pelvic fins, anal fin, and lower lobe of caudal fin yellowish in specimens from the tropical Atlantic coast of Africa (Ref. 57400, 81659).

Description: lips thin; pectoral fins short (when folded forward does not reach eye); anal spines 3 in adults, anal soft rays 8 in adults, 9 in larvae (Ref. 40476). 36-42 (usually 38 or 39) scales in longitudinal series (excluding scales on caudal fin base); 13-15 scales between pelvic and first dorsal fins; anal fin with 3 spines and 8 (rarely 9) segmented rays in adults (first spine very short and usually hidden by overlying scales), usually 2 spines and 9 soft rays in juveniles <35 mm SL; pectoral fin 61-83% of head length, with 1 short, unsegmented ray dorsally and 15-17 (mode 16) longer, segmented rays; pharyngobranchial organ with single, large valve, often shorter (anteroposteriorly) than deep (dorsoventrally)(Ref. 81659).

Coloration: live specimens: dorsally greyish olive, greyish brown (Ref. 81659), bluish-grey (Ref. 57400) to olive-green (Ref. 40476). Flanks silvery(-grey)(Ref. 40476, 57400, 81659) with golden reflections (Ref. 57400) and 7-10 longitudinal dark bands following rows of scales (Ref. 57400, 81659), sometimes distinctive (Ref. 40476), bands less conspicuous on ventral parts of flanks (Ref. 81659). Fish from estuarine waters may have duller flanks and be duller blue or dirty brown dorsally (Ref. 81659). Abdomen off-white (Ref. 40476, 81659). Fins dusky, with numerous fine black speckles, particularly on dorsal and caudal fins; pelvic fins paler than other fins (Ref. 81659). Pelvic fins, anal fin and lower lobe of caudal fin yellowish in specimens from the tropical Atlantic coast of Africa (Ref. 57400, 81659). Dark spot at origin of pectoral fin (Ref. 81659). Preserved specimens: dorsum dark brown, flanks lighter brown or silvery with longitudinal dark bands, and ventral parts of body pale/yellowish or silvery (Ref. 81659).

Ease of Identification

Meristic characteristics of Mugil cephalus

Lateral Lines Interrupted: No
Scales on lateral line 36 - 42
Pored lateral line scales
Scales in lateral series
Scale rows above lateral line
Scale rows below lateral line
Scales around caudal peduncle 19 - 21
Barbels 0
Gill clefts (sharks/rays only)
Gill rakers
on lower limb
on upper limb


Dorsal fin(s)

Attributes no striking attributes
Fins number 2
Finlets No. Dorsal   0 - 0
Ventral  0 - 0
Spines total 5 - 5
Soft-rays total 7 - 9
Adipose fin absent

Caudal fin

Attributes forked; more or less normal

Anal fin(s)

Fins number 1
Spines total 3 - 3
Soft-rays total 8 - 9

Paired fins

Pectoral Attributes  more or less normal
Spines     0
Soft-rays   16 - 18
Pelvics Attributes  more or less normal
Position    abdominal  before origin of D1
Spines     1
Soft-rays   5 - 5
Main Ref. (e.g. 9948)
Glossary ( e.g. cephalopods )
Entered by Capuli, Estelita Emily
Modified by Musschoot, Tobias
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