Smallknob Flathead, Thysanophrys papillaris Imamura & Knapp 1999

The holotype of Thysanophrys papillaris - lateral view. Source: Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. License: CC BY NC-SA/3.0

A small flathead with a long, depressed head and body, and a long snout. Head with a single stout preopercular spine, eye with a single small papilla on upper surface, iris lappet with short branches. Brownish in preservative with a dark band across the head through the eyes and a saddle-like dark band across the back at the first dorsal fin. A broad blackish band on outer half of first dorsal fin, tail with three blackish bands.

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CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research, Thysanophrys papillaris in Fishes of Australia, accessed 11 Jul 2020,

Smallknob Flathead, Thysanophrys papillaris Imamura & Knapp 1999

More Info


Tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific, from the eastern Indian Ocean – Andaman Sea and Cocos (Keeling) Islands , and northern Australia. Recorded in Australia from the Timor Sea and Arafura Seas off northeast Western Australia and the north coast of the Northern Territory. Benthic in depths of 64-98 m.


Meristic counts: Dorsal fin I,VI, or I,VIII, 11; Anal fin 12; Pectoral fin 19-20; Pelic fin I, 5; Lateral line scales 51-54.

Body elongate, depressed. Head large (length 36-40% SL), depressed; a single, stout preocular spine; supraorbital ridge finely serrated over eye; suborbital ridge with 5 spines; least interorbital width 22.1-27.2 in HL; a single small papilla on dorsal surface of eye; villiform teeth in bands on jaws and palatine, in two separate patches on vomer; preopercular spines 3, upper longest, not reaching posterior margin of opercle, bearing a supplementary spine; interopercular flap truncuate, not extended anteroventrally, without lobes; gill rakers on first gill arch 1 + 4-6 (rarely 6).

Oblique scale rows slanting downward and forward above lateral line about equal to number of lateral-line scales; lateral-line scales 51-54, anterior 2-3 lateral-line scales bearing a small spine

First dorsal fin spinous with short base, first spine very short, following spines much longer. Second dorsal fin with moderately long base, anterior rays longest, about as long as longest first dorsal spines. Pectoral fins moderately elongated.


Maximum length at least 12 cm.


Colour in life unknown. In preservative, head and body light brown. A dark brown band over interorbit and both eyes. Saddle-like, discontinuous dark brown band crossing back at first dorsal fin. Small dark brown blotches below anterior and middle of second dorsal fin, and on caudal peduncle. First dorsal fin with a broad blackish band on distal half. Caudal fin with three blackish bands; pectoral and pelvic fins with brown spots forming irregular bands; pectoral fin with a blackish line between anterior portions of rays 8 and 9.




Nothing known of biology.


May be caught incidentally in trawls.


Not evaluated.

Similar Species

Resembles Thysanophrys celebica in having a single papilla on upper surface of eye; differs in having a higher number of body scales rows slanting downwards below lateral line (65-70 in papillaris vs 49-52 in celebica, and a longer snout. This new species can be distinguished from other species in the genus Thysanophrys. (Imamura & Knapp 1999).


Thysanophrys is from the Greek thysanos, meaning “tassell”, and ophrys, meaning “eye brow” in reference to the papilla on the upper part of the eye. The species name papillaris is from Latin in reference to the characteristic small papilla on the upper surface of eye in this species.

Species Citation

Thysanophrys papillaris, Imamura & Knapp, 1999, Ichth. Res. 46(2): Southwest of Flat Top Bank, Timor Sea, Western Australia.


CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research

Smallknob Flathead, Thysanophrys papillaris Imamura & Knapp 1999


Eschmeyer, W.N. (2008) The Catalogue of Fishes on-line. (California Academy of Sciences: San Francisco) Available from: (10 March, 2008).

Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & Allen, G.R. (2006) Fishes. In: P.L. Beesley & A. Wells (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia Volume 35. Parts 1-3. Australian Biological Resources Study and CSIRO Publishing, 2248 pp.

Imamura, H. & L.W. Knapp. 1999. Thysanophrys papillaris, a new species of flathead from the Andaman Sea and northern Australia (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae). Ichth. Res. 46(2): 179-183.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296053

Danger:venomous spines

Depth:65-100 m




Max Size:120

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