|Mugil cephalus at Minorca, Spain|
L. S. Berg, 1940
G. Cuvier, 1829
The mullets or grey mullets are a family (Mugilidae) and order of ray-finned fish found worldwide in coastal temperate and tropical waters, and in some species in fresh water. Mullets have served as an important source of food in Mediterranean Europe since Roman times. The family includes about 80 (at least 73) species in 17 genera, although half of the species are in just two genera (Liza and Mugil).
Mullets are distinguished by the presence of two separate dorsal fins, small triangular mouths, and the absence of a lateral line organ. They feed on detritus, and most species have unusually muscular stomachs and a complex pharynx to help in digestion.
Classification and naming
Taxonomically, the family is currently treated as the sole member of the order Mugiliformes, but as Nelson says, "there has been much disagreement concerning the relationships" of this family. The presence of fin spines clearly indicates membership in the superorder Acanthopterygii, and in the 1960s, they were classed as primitive perciforms, while others have grouped them in Atheriniformes.
In North America, "mullet" by itself usually refers to Mugilidae. In Europe, the word "mullet" is usually qualified, the "grey mullets" being Mugilidae and the "red mullets" or "surmullets" being Mullidae, notably members of the genus Mullus, the red mullets. Outside Europe, the Mullidae are often called "goatfish". Fish with common names including the word "mullet" may be a member of one family or the other, or even unrelated such as the freshwater white sucker (Catostomus commersonii).
- J.S. Nelson, Fishes of the World. ISBN 978-0-471-25031-9.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Mugilidae" in FishBase. June 2012 version.
- Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: p.560. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
- SPECIES BY FAMILY/SUBFAMILY IN THE CATALOG OF FISHES
|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Mullet (fish).|