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.

Cite this page as:
Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO & Bray, D.J. 2020, Thysanophrys papillaris in Fishes of Australia, accessed 28 May 2024,

Smallknob Flathead, Thysanophrys papillaris Imamura & Knapp 1999

More Info


NNW of Port Hedland, Western Australia, to the Timor Sea and Arafura Seas, N of Ramingining, Northern Territory. Inhabits soft sediment areas in depths to 100 m. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical east-Indo-west Pacific: Andaman, Timor and Arafura seas, and Nha Trang, Vietnam. 


Dorsal fin I,VI, or I,VIII, 11; Anal fin 12; Pectoral fin 19-20; Pelvic 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 SL.


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.


Presumably feeds on fishes and crustaceans.


Nothing known of biology.


Taken as incidental bycatch in trawls.


Similar Species

Differs from other members of the genus Thysanophrys in having 11 second dorsal-fin rays, 12 anal-fin rays, 58–75 oblique body scale rows slanting downward and forward below the lateral line, the snout longer than the orbital diameter (ratio of snout length/orbital diameter 1.1–1.3), a single (rarely 2) small papillae on the upper eye surface, the upper iris lappet with short branches, 1 preorbital spine and 3–5 suborbital spines (usually 4) (Imamura et al. 2019).


The specific name papillaris is from Latin (= papillary) in reference to the characteristic small papilla on the upper surface of eye in this species.

Species Citation

Thysanophrys papillaris, Imamura & Knapp 1999, Ichthyological Research 46(2): 180, figs 1-4. Type locality: Southwest of Flat Top Bank, Timor Sea, Western Australia, 12°28'S, 128°37'E, depth 98 m.


Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO & Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Smallknob Flathead, Thysanophrys papillaris Imamura & Knapp 1999


Imamura, H., Kimura, K. & Quan, N.V. 2019. First Record of Thysanophrys papillaris (Actynopterygii: Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae) from the Western Pacific. Species Diversity 24(1): 17-22

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

Knapp, L.W. 2013. Descriptions of four new species of Thysanophrys (Scorpaeniformes: Platycephalidae) from the Western Indian Ocean. Zootaxa 3608(2): 127-136

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37296053

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:65-100 m

Fishing:Trawl bycatch

Habitat:Soft sediment areas

Max Size:12 cm SL

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