The optical light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy techniques have proven to play a key and noteworthy role in the advancement of morphological studies in general, and in investigating fish scale morphology in particular. These techniques have illustrated several hidden architectural structures in scales that contribute effectively to fish identification and classification. The scale morphological and topological characters such as type, size, shape, lateral surface, focus position, circuli appearance, radii type, lepidonts, and posterior and anterior margin shapes were obtained using macro- and microscopic analysis in six body regions for three size classes of Garra sharq, a cyprinid endemic fish of the Arabian Peninsula. The general scale type in the studied G. sharq species was a basal elasmoid cycloid and a sectioned type. As a protective structure, the scales display several specific characteristics including firm attachment to the fish body, overlapping, and thin structure with a high surface area and high strength. These characteristics improve scale resistance to penetration, increase protection against mechanical injury and microbial infection, enhance scale flexibility, reduce fish weight (reduce friction drag), and increase scale transparency. The scales demonstrate plasticity in focus shape, size, and position in the six fish body parts and fish size groups. The examined scales displayed narrow or wide grooves (radii) in three types including primary, secondary, and tertiary present in all four scale fields (anterior, posterior, and laterals), thus a tetra-sectioned type that is almost specific to the genus Garra. This characteristic also increases scale flexibility. The rostral margin of scales was characterized by the presence of waved and striate types. The lepidont shape and size varied being blunt, flat, pointed, tiny, sharp, short, and long. Some of these scale characters and their morphologies could be used as an alternative tool for identification, classification, and phylogenetic interpretation among the different freshwater fish species and genera.
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