The stargazers are a family Uranoscopidae of perciform fish that have eyes on top of their heads (thus the name). The family includes about 50 species in 8 genera, all marine and found worldwide in shallow waters.
In addition to the top-mounted eyes, stargazers also have a large upward-facing mouth in a large head. Their usual habit is to bury themselves in sand, and leap upwards to ambush prey (benthic fish and invertebrates) that pass overhead. Some species have a worm-shaped lure growing out of the floor of the mouth, which they can wiggle to attract prey's attention. Both the dorsal and anal fins are relatively long; some lack dorsal spines. Lengths range from 18 cm up to 90 cm, for the giant stargazer Kathetostoma giganteum.
Stargazers are venomous; they have two large poison spines situated behind the opercle and above the pectoral fins. They can also cause electric shocks.
Genera and species
- Genus Astroscopus
- Genus Genyagnus
- Genus Gnathagnus
- Genus Ichthyscopus
- Genus Kathetostoma
- Lancer stargazer, Kathetostoma albigutta (Bean, 1892)
- Smooth stargazer, Kathetostoma averruncus Jordan & Bollman, 1890
- Kathetostoma canaster Gomon & Last, 1987
- Spiny stargazer, Kathetostoma cubana Barbour, 1941
- Kathetostoma fluviatilis Hutton, 1872
- Giant stargazer, Kathetostoma giganteum Haast, 1873
- Common stargazer, Kathetostoma laeve (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
- Deepwater stargazer, Kathetostoma nigrofasciatum Waite & McCulloch, 1915
- Genus Pleuroscopus
- Genus Selenoscopus
- Genus Uranoscopus
- Genus 'Xenocephalus''
- Stargazer is also the name for a mutant mouse line that contains a mutation of a gene encoding the protein, stargazin, a transmembrane protein that acts as an accessory subunit of mammalian glutamate receptors. Stargazer animals are ataxic, owing to deficits in cerebellar function, and manifest epileptic seizures.
- In March 2004 BBC world reported a school of Stargazer fish eating a leopard who was drinking at a watering hole in Chicago zoo