Temporal range:
F de Castelnau-poissons - Diversity of Fishes (Composite Image).jpg
Teleosts of different orders, painted by Castelnau, 1856 (left to right, top to bottom): Fistularia tabacaria (Syngnathiformes), Mylossoma duriventre (Characiformes), Mesonauta acora (Cichliformes), Corydoras splendens and Pseudacanthicus spinosus (Siluriformes), Acanthurus coeruleus (Acanthuriformes), Stegastes pictus (Incertae sedis, Pomacentridae)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Subclass: Neopterygii
Infraclass: Teleostei
J. P. Müller, 1845[3]

See text

Teleostei (/ˌtɛliˈɒsti/; Greek teleios "complete" + osteon "bone"), members of which are known as teleosts (/ˈtɛliɒsts, ˈtli-/),[4] is, by far, the largest infraclass in the class Actinopterygii, the ray-finned fishes,[a] containing 96% of all extant species of fish. Teleosts are arranged into about 40 orders and 448 families. Over 26,000 species have been described. Teleosts range from giant oarfish measuring 7.6 m (25 ft) or more, and ocean sunfish weighing over 2 t (2.0 long tons; 2.2 short tons), to the minute male anglerfish Photocorynus spiniceps, just 6.2 mm (0.24 in) long. Including not only torpedo-shaped fish built for speed, teleosts can be flattened vertically or horizontally, be elongated cylinders or take specialised shapes as in anglerfish and seahorses.

The difference between teleosts and other bony fish lies mainly in their jaw bones; teleosts have a movable premaxilla and corresponding modifications in the jaw musculature which make it possible for them to protrude their jaws outwards from the mouth. This is of great advantage, enabling them to grab prey and draw it into the mouth. In more derived teleosts, the enlarged premaxilla is the main tooth-bearing bone, and the maxilla, which is attached to the lower jaw, acts as a lever, pushing and pulling the premaxilla as the mouth is opened and closed. Other bones further back in the mouth serve to grind and swallow food. Another difference is that the upper and lower lobes of the tail (caudal) fin are about equal in size. The spine ends at the caudal peduncle, distinguishing this group from other fish in which the spine extends into the upper lobe of the tail fin.

Teleosts have adopted a range of reproductive strategies. Most use external fertilisation: the female lays a batch of eggs, the male fertilises them and the larvae develop without any further parental involvement. A fair proportion of teleosts are sequential hermaphrodites, starting life as females and transitioning to males at some stage, with a few species reversing this process. A small percentage of teleosts are viviparous and some provide parental care with typically the male fish guarding a nest and fanning the eggs to keep them well-oxygenated.

Teleosts are economically important to humans, as is shown by their depiction in art over the centuries. The fishing industry harvests them for food, and anglers attempt to capture them for sport. Some species are farmed commercially, and this method of production is likely to be increasingly important in the future. Others are kept in aquariums or used in research, especially in the fields of genetics and developmental biology.

  1. ^ Palmer, Douglas (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Animals. Marshall Editions Developments. ISBN 978-1-84028-152-1.
  2. ^ "The Paleobiology Database". The Paleobiology Database. 14 June 2013.
  3. ^ Müller, Johannes (1845). "Über den Bau und die Grenzen der Ganoiden, und über das natürliche System der Fische". Archiv für Naturgeschichte. 11 (1): 129.
  4. ^ "teleost". Unabridged (Online). n.d.

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