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large, elongated fish, genus Regalecus, found in the oceans worldwide except for the polar regions. Oarfish species are solitary and rarely seen by humans. The giant oarfish, R. glesne, is the world's longest bony fish, up to 17.5 ft (5.4 m) in length. It has no visible teeth and no scales, a red dorsal fin that runs the length of the body, with some 400 dorsal fin rays, and a long pelvic fin, usually with a single ray. It feeds on plankton. Because of their great length, unusual appearance, and rarity, giant oarfish are probably responsible for many sea serpent legends that have arisen in folklore. Oarfish are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Lampriformes, family Regalecidae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Regalecus glesne), a fish of the order Lampridi-formes. The narrow and very elongate body is 5.5 m long (sometimes reaching 9 m) and weighs approximately 250 kg. The red dorsal fin originates on the head and extends the entire length of the back. The front ten to 15 rays are elongate, forming a crest above the head. The oarfish is found in the warm and temperate waters of the world’s oceans at depths of 50 to 700 m and, occasionally, near the surface. The fish swims in a vertical position with the head up. At one time, fishermen thought the fish was a sea serpent with a horse’s head and fiery red mane. The oarfish may be found in schools of herring. It is inedible.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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