Head large, broad, snout rounded to bluntly pointed, with a stout modified tricuspid scale at tip; a strong suborbital ridge that extends posteriorly onto the preopercular and ending in a sharp point; eye large, diameter about one-third head length; mouth sub-terminal, jaws reaching to beyond a vertical through mid-orbit; outer gill rakers on first arch absent; branchiostegal rays 6. Teeth small, in moderate to broad bands on premaxilla, sometimes with outer series slightly enlarged, the bands tapering posteriorly and ending well short of rictus; mandibular teeth 1 to about 5 teeth wide at symphysis, narrowing to one row posteriorly and extending to about end of rictus. A serrated spinous ray (second, first ray tiny and stout) in the first dorsal fin; pelvic fin rays usually 8 or 9 (7 to 10). Anus close to anal fin, no light organ; swimbladder shallowly bilobed anteriorly, with 4 retia mirabilia. Body scales with an enlarged median row of spinules flanked by parallel rows of much smaller spinules.
McMillan et al. (2012) revised the genus.
Iwamoto, T. 1990. Family Macrouridae. pp. 90-318 in Cohen, D.M., Inada, T., Iwamoto, T. & Scialabba, N. FAO Species Catalogue. Gadiform fishes of the world (order Gadiformes). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of cods, hakes, grenadiers and other gadiform fishes known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 10 442 pp.
McMillan, P., Iwamoto, T., Stewart, A. & P.J. Smith. 2012. A new species of grenadier, genus Macrourus (Teleostei, Gadiformes, Macrouridae) from the southern hemisphere and a revision of the genus. Zootaxa 3165: 1–24 PDF Open access