Young ragfish have limp bodies. The body is broad from back to belly and narrow from side to side. It is smooth-skinned and scaleless, except along the lateral line, where the scales have small spines. The lateral (LAT-uhr-uhl) line is a series of pores and tiny tubes along each side of a fish's body and is used for sensing vibrations. The snout is blunt and looks like that of a calf. The dorsal (DOOR-suhl) fin that runs along the midline top of the body has one spine. The tail fin is rounded and fanlike. The pelvic fins, the pair that corresponds to the rear legs of four-footed animals, have one spine. All fins have tiny spines on the surface.
When ragfish become adults, the body lengthens and becomes less broad from back to belly, and a ridge develops along the midline of the belly. The lateral line spines, the spines on the fins, and the pelvic fins disappear. The color turns to solid dark brown over the entire body and fins. Ragfish have been reported to reach a length of about 7 feet (2.1 meters).
Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesRagfish: Icosteoidei - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION, RAGFISH AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS