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European eel (Anguilla anguilla)

European eel ( Anguilla anguilla )

Superclass : Jaw mouths (Gnathostomata)
Class : Ray fins (Actinopterygii)
Subclass : Neuflosser (Neopterygii)
Subclass : Real bony fish (Teleostei)
Cohort : Elopomorpha
Order : Eel-like
Scientific name
Goodrich , 1909

The eel-like (Anguilliformes, German and eels ) are about 940 kinds comprehensive order serpentine, almost exclusively in the Sea of living bony fish . They are mostly nocturnal predatory fish.


Most eel species live in tropical and subtropical seas around the world , both in shallow coastal waters, coral reefs and in the deep sea . Only the river eels (Anguillidae) live in fresh waters and only move into the sea to reproduce. Two of their species, the European eel ( Anguilla anguilla ) and the American eel ( Anguilla rostrata ) are also the only ones whose range extends far into the temperate climate zone.


All eel-like have a serpentine, elongated body. Their body length ranges from a few centimeters to many Einkieferaalen up to a length of four meters in the giant Deltamuräne ( Strophidon sathete ). It can be round in cross section or flattened on the side. The dorsal fin and anal fin form a continuous fin edge. Ventral fins are no longer present in today's species , but can still be seen in some fossil forms. The spine can have up to 770 vertebrae and ends straight ( protocerk ). Eel-like are mostly scaly, in some species there are small round scales under the skin, and the side line is often missing. Some skull bones are missing, e.g. B. the post-temporal, which connects the skull with the shoulder girdle in many fish. During metamorphosis, some bones (premaxillary, ethmo, vomer) fuse on the jaw , which are still separated during the larval phase . The gill opening is narrow, the gill cover is missing, the gill chamber is supported by the radii branchiostegi , a skull bone.


The order of the eel-like is divided into 20 families, which can be summarized in eight sub-orders.

Paranguilla tigrina (Paranguillidae) in the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Veronanguilla ruffoi (Anguilloididae) in the Natural History Museum of Verona

Fossil record

The first are eel-like fossil from the upper layers of chalk of Lebanon with the genera Urencelys and Enchelion known. Enchelion can already be assigned to a current family, the conger eels (Congridae). There are also fossils from the lower Oligocene . The conger eel Pavelichthys from the northern Caucasus and the sawtooth snipe eel (Serrivomeridae) Proserrivomer from Iran .

An important site is the Monte Bolca formation in northern Italy , which arose from Tethys deposits in the Eocene . From it the no current family associated species were Anguilloides , Bolcanguilla , Dalphiaziella , Eomyrophis , Milanangullia , Parangullia , Patavichthys , Proteomycus , Veronagullia and Whitapodus that Meeraale Bolycus and Voltaconger , and Schlangenaal Goslinophis described.

The recent conger eels of the genus Conger have been found in fossils from Europe, North America and New Zealand since the Eocene . Today's river eels ( Anguilla ) can be identified since the Miocene . Fossils were found near Öhningen on the Upper Rhine (Baden-Württemberg) , among other places .



  1. Erwin Hentschel, Günther Wagner: Dictionary of Zoology. 7th edition. Elsevier, Munich / Heidelberg 2004, ISBN 3-8274-1479-2 , page 39, article "Aalfische"
  2. Strophidon sathete on (English)
  3. ^ Karl A. Frickhinger: Fossil Atlas of Fishes . Mergus-Verlag, Melle, 1999, ISBN 3-88244-018-X .

Web links

Commons : Eel-like  - collection of images, videos, and audio files
Wikisource Wikisource: Aale  - Article of the 4th edition of Meyers Konversations-Lexikon
Wiktionary: eel-like  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Eel fish  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations