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The slender, round-bodied sand launces suggest small eels in general appearance. Eel-like, too, they lack ventral fins, and they swim with eel-like undulations from side to side. But they are not even remote relatives of the true eels, from [page 488] which they are distinguishable at a glance by their forked caudal fin, separated by an appreciable space from both dorsal and anal fins; by their wide gill openings; and by the presence of a large bony gill cover, not to mention other anatomic characteristics equally important if less obvious. Only one species inhabits our Gulf.[33] The larger North European launce (A. lanceolatus), which grows to 12 inches and has 2 stout teeth on the roof of its mouth, has no representative in our side of the Atlantic.

[33] A second species of launce (the Arctic Ammodytes dubius Reinhardt 1838), thought to be characterized by having more fin rays (65-67 dorsals, 33-36 anals), has been reported from Boston by Günther (Catalogue Fishes British Mus., vol. 4, 1862, p. 387), and from Woods Hole by Smith (Bull. U. S. Fish. Comm., vol. 17, 1898, p. 95), but it is probable that the specimens in question were merely large Ammodytes americanus. In fact it is doubtful whether there is any sound distinction between the A. dubius of Greenland and the European A. tobianus on the one hand, and the American A. americanus on the other.