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After a careful study of the otoliths, or earstones, of the bony fishes the present author finds that a great majority of these can be identified to species level. The size of otoliths are also closely correlated to the size of the fish, permitting a reconstruction of the size of a fish with high accuracy from otoliths only. This means that the diet of piscivores can be estimated from otoliths found in stomach contents, faeces or regurgitated pellets. Archaeologists will ﬁnd it helpful to be able to identify bony fishes to species and size as will palaeontologists, ichthyologists, omithologists or people involved in investigations concerning marine mammals.
In this handbook the first chapter presents the present knowledge about otoliths and the applicability of otoliths in different types of studies. An extensive key to the species presented is followed by a detailed description of 103 species. The otoliths are described in text, line drawings and 518 scanning micrographs with an object to show the variation of the shape within every species. In association with the description are correlation equations given for the correlation between otolith length and fish length and fish weight.