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Temporal range: Middle Eocene to Present
Salon u0.gif
Sardinella longiceps
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Clupeiformes
Family: Clupeidae
Genus: Sardinella
Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1847

21, see text

Sardinella is a genus of fishes in the family Clupeidae, the herrings and sardines. This genus currently contains 21 recognized species.[1] They are abundant in warmer waters of the tropical and subtropical oceans.

Sardinella species are generally coastal, schooling, marine fish. Juveniles are often found in lagoons and estuaries, and adults are more common off the coast.

Species are distinguished by their ranges and by specific body features, but they are often confused with one another. Fish of the genus have seven to 14 striped markings along the scales of the top of the head. The paddle-shaped supramaxilla bones are characteristic; they separate Sardinella from other genera and their shapes help distinguish species. They have paired predorsal scales and enlarged fin rays.[2]


Sardinella is distributed in both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, throughout the Mediterranean Sea, and in the Indian and the western Pacific Oceans.[2]

Sardinella and Harengula[edit]

Sardinella evolved from the small herring genus Harengula. The two genera are nearly indistinguishable, but have slight differences in morphology. The scales of Harengula have complete transverse grooves which became interrupted in Sardinella. The shape of the expanded portion of the second supramaxillary bone also helps to differentiate the taxa. Sardinella also has a more developed anal fin, with enlarged and elongated posterior rays.[3]

Sardinella and Harengula can distinguished from other Clupeidae genera by several shared characteristics. Both have a terminal mouth, lack a median notch in the upper jaw, lack radiating grooves in their smooth opercula, lack scales on the predorsal ridge, and have no more than 24 rays on the anal fin. Both also have a unique dermal fold on the anterior edge of the cleithrum, a bone attached to the skull.[3]