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The wolffishes are closely allied to the blennies, and like the latter they have a single long spiny dorsal fin running the whole length of the back from the nape of the neck. But the presence of large molar teeth and canine tusks, with their total lack of ventral fins and the fact that all but the last 10 or 12 of their dorsal fin spines are soft and flexible at the tips, instead of stiff justify a separate family for them. They are much larger fish than any of our blenny tribe. Two species occur in the Gulf of Maine, one, the wolffish, commonly; the other, the spotted wolffish, only as a stray from the north. Another cold water species, Anarhichas latifrons, has been recorded repeatedly from Nova Scotian waters, hence it is to be expected in our Gulf sooner or later though it has not been reported there definitely. It is included in the following Key.[94]

1. Back and sides definitely black spotted on a pale ground; the bands of molar teeth in the roof of the mouth are all of about equal lengths. Spotted wolffish, p. 507
Back and sides plain colored or dark barred and blotched, but not definitely black-spotted; the central band of molar teeth in the roof of the mouth is longer than the bands that flank it 2  
2. The central band of molar teeth originates at about the same level as the bands on either side of it, but it extends considerably farther rearward than they do; the canine teeth are very large and prominent; the flesh is firm Wolffish, p. 503
The central band of molar teeth originates considerably in advance of the bands on either side of it, but it terminates about even with them rearward; the canine teeth are small, not very prominent; the flesh is noticeably flabby when fresh-caught. Arctic wolffish, Anarhichas latifrons, Steenstrup and Hallgrimsson.

[94] We think it likely that a specimen of A. latifrons credited by Bean (Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol. 3, 1881, p. 82) to "east coast of United States" was actually brought in from Nova Scotian waters rather than that it was caught anywhere west of Cape Sable. See Bigelow and Schroeder (Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., vol. 41, No. 2, 1935, p. 15) for further remarks on this species.