Humphead Wrasse swimming in reef. Photo Credit: Robert F. MyersClassification

Domain: Eukarya
     Kingdom: Animalia
           Phylum: Chordata
                Class: Actinopterygii
                      Order: Perciformes
                Family: Labridae
         Genus: Cheilinus
   Species: undulatus


To see the molecular classification of the Cheilinus genus, click here. This shows how the various species are related using Tmo-4C4 gene sequence. This tree was created by Olivia Feagles and based upon information obtained from the primary resource created by Alfaro and Westneat (2005).

To see the morphological classification of the Labridae family, click here. This shows the relationships physically among similar species.  This tree was created by Madison Geliche and the information was gathered from a primary research article specifically describing the physical characteristics among many different labrid species (Westneat 1993).


This organism belongs to the domain Eukarya because it is eukaryotic and contains membrane bound     organelles.  Also, all of the cells within this organism contains a nucleus (Cain et al. 2008).

KINGDOM: The Napoleon Wrasse is a member of the kingdom Animalia because it is multicellular, it lacks a cell wall, and it is a heterotrophic organism (Cain et al. 2008).

PHYLUM: This fish is part of the phylum Chordata because it contains features that are unique to just chordates.  These features include: a notochord, a dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail (Myers 2001).

CLASS: The Napoleon Wrasse is a ray-fined fish which is a characteristic of this class (Jonna 2004).

ORDER: One reason the Napoleon Wrasse belongs to the order Perciformes is because it has a perch-like body and has dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins. Other characteristics that the Napoleon Wrasse has that is shared among other species in the Perciformes are specific types of rays, bones, and gills (Bray and Gomon 2011).

FAMILY: One important characteristic of the Labridae family is being a protogynous hermaphrodite.  Also, those part of this family have large teeth, specialized scales and a large dorsal fin.  Other characteristics that are shared among the Labridae fish are colorful bodies and thick lips (Bray 2012).

Here is the break down of Cheilinus undulatus: In Greek, the world "cheilos" means lip.  This is appropriately used in the scientific name because this fish is commonly known for its extremely large lips (FishBase 2012).
In Latin, the word "undulatus" translates to wavy or undulated. This is appropriately used because of the wavy patterns on the sides of the organism (Word Sense).

The more common names for the Cheilinus undulatus are derived from the notable hump on the foreheads of larger individuals, their giant body size, and the delicate markings around the eyes (Sadovy et al. 2003).  Some of the common names include Humphead Wrasse, Napoleon Wrasse, and Maori Wrasse.  "Napoleon" is a fitting common name because the hump on the head of the Wrasse represents the hat of Napoleon Bonaparte, a French emperor.  Also, "Maori" is a appropriate because the patterns on the body of the Wrasse represents the face and body paintings of Maori people in New Zealand!

Continue to Habitat to see where this organism spends its time!

Check out our References!
Back to Homepage