Scabbard Fish, a fish generally placed with the mackerel family, and in the genus lepido-pus (Cuv.). The only species described is the L. argyreus (Cuv. and Val.), inhabiting the European seas from Great Britain to the Mediterranean, and met with even as far south as the cape of Good Hope. The body is very elongated, compressed, and ribbon-shaped, and without scales; the head is pointed; the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins are distinct from each other, the first extending the whole length of the body; the jaw teeth are in a single row, those on the palate and pharyngeal bones and branchial arches very small; six branchioste-gal rays, a long caecal stomach, numerous pancreatic caeca, and a narrow air bladder. In a specimen taken on the coast of England, between 5 and 6 ft. long, the body was only 4 1/2 in. deep at the gills, 2 in. at the beginning of the anal and at the tail, with a weight of 6 lbs. without the intestines; the pectorals were rather small, and the ventrals a mere squamous appendage, the styloid pubic bone being felt through the skin. Though not uncommon in European seas, this fish was not known to naturalists until the end of the 18th century; it was described by Montagu as xipotheca tetra-dens. According to Risso, its flesh is eaten in Mediterranean ports, and is firm and delicate.
It swims with great velocity, waving like a long and wide ribbon of silver. - The silvery hair-tail (trichiurus lepturus, Linn.; T. argen-teus, Mitch.) differs from the preceding genus in having no vestige of ventrals, in the anal being a series of spines scarcely protruding through the skin, and in the tail ending in a filiform point without a caudal fin, whence the name; it attains a length of 4 ft. It is found on the American coast from New England to South America. The whole armature of the jaws indicates carnivorous habits. Other species are described in the Indian ocean. Both of these genera are occasionally called ribbon fish.
Silvery Hair-Tail (Trichiurus lepturus).