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Temporal range: Early Jurassic–Recent
Amia calva1.jpg
Extant bowfin Amia calva
Cretaceous Sinamia sp.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Infraclass: Holostei
Clade: Halecomorphi
Order: Amiiformes
O. P. Hay, 1929[1]
Type species
Amia calva
Linnaeus, 1766

See text

The Amiiformes /ˈæmi.ɪfɔːrmz/ order of fish has only one extant species, the bowfin (Amia calva). These Amiiformes are found in the freshwater systems of North America, in the United States and parts of southern Canada. They live in freshwater streams, rivers, and swamps.

Bowfins are not on the endangered list. They have the ability to go to the surface to breathe air if the water level is too low. Characteristics of Amiiformes are a cylindrical body with a long dorsal fin, single gular plate, heterocercal caudal fin, 10 to 13 flattened branchiostegal rays, maxilla included in gape, and prominent ocellus near upper base of caudal fin.

Evolution and diversity[edit]

The extinct species of the Amiiformes can be found as fossils in Asia and Europe, but the bowfin is the last living species in the order. Amiiformes is therefore the last surviving order of Halecomorphi, the clade to which the bowfin and its fossil relatives belong. Other orders, such as the Parasemionotiformes, are all extinct.

Halecomorphs, and its sister group Ginglymodi, belong to Holostei. Holosteans are the sister group of teleosteans, the group to which nearly all (i.e., 96%) living fishes belong to. Holosteans and Teleosts form a clade called Neopterygii. The following cladogram[2] summarizes the evolutionary relationships of living and fossil Halecomorphs, and other neopterygians.


Teleostei Common carp (white background).jpg


Ginglymodi (gars, alligator gars, and their fossil relatives) Alligator gar fish (white background).jpg


Parasemionotiformes Albertonia cupidinia 34.jpg

Panxianichthyiformes Eoeugnathus megalepis.JPG

Ionoscopiformes Ionoscopus analibrevis.jpg

Amiiformes (bowfin and its fossil relatives) Amia calva (white background).jpg

Amiiformes likely originated in the western Tethys Ocean, in what is now Europe. The oldest member of the Amiiformes is Caturus heterurus from the lower Lias (Sinemurian) of England. Amiiformes had spread to North America and Africa by the end of the Middle Jurassic, reaching an apex of diversity during the Early Cretaceous, during the Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic, the group declined until only a single species, the bowfin remained.[3]



  1. ^ "Amiiformes". Paleobiology Database. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  2. ^ Sun, Zuoyu; Tintori, Andrea; Xu, Yaozhong; Lombardo, Cristina; Ni, Peigang; Jiang, Dayoung (April 2017). "A new non-parasemionotiform order of the Halecomorphi (Neopterygii, Actinopterygii) from the Middle Triassic of Tethys". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 15 (3): 223–240. doi:10.1080/14772019.2016.1181679. S2CID 133176227.
  3. ^ Poyato-Ariza, Francisco José; Martín-Abad, Hugo (2020-07-19). "History of two lineages: Comparative analysis of the fossil record in Amiiformes and Pycnodontiformes (Osteischtyes, Actinopterygii)". Spanish Journal of Palaeontology. 28 (1): 79. doi:10.7203/sjp.28.1.17833. ISSN 2255-0550.
  4. ^ Haaramo, Mikko (2007). "Amiiformes – bowfin and relatives". Mikko's Phylogeny Archive. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  5. ^ Nelson, Joseph S.; Grande, Terry C.; Wilson, Mark V. H. (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118342336.
  6. ^ van der Laan, Richard (2016). "Family-group names of fossil fishes". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ a b c Tan, K.; Jin, F. (2013). "Re-study on Gymnoichthys inopinatus from Middle Triassic of Luoping, Yunnan, China". Vertebrata PalAsiatica. 51 (1): 1–16.
  8. ^ Arratia, G.; Schultze, H.-P. (2007). "EurycormusEurypoma, two Jurassic actinopterygian genera with mixed identity". Fossil Record. 10 (1): 17–37. doi:10.1002/mmng.200600016.
  9. ^ López-Arbarello, A.; Ebert, M. (2023). "Taxonomic status of the caturid genera (Halecomorphi, Caturidae) and their Late Jurassic species". Royal Society Open Science. 10 (1): 221318. doi:10.1098/rsos.221318.
  10. ^ Gouiric-Cavalli, S. (2016). "A new Late Jurassic halecomorph fish from the marine Vaca Muerta Formation, Argentina, southwestern Gondwana". Fossil Record. 19 (2): 119–129. doi:10.5194/fr-19-119-2016.
  11. ^ Forey, P. L.; Patterson, C. (2006). "Description and systematic relationships of † Tomognathus , an enigmatic fish from the English Chalk". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 4 (2): 157–184. doi:10.1017/S1477201905001719.
  12. ^ Cavin, L.; Suteethorn, V.; Buffetaut, E.; Claude, J.; Cuny, G.; Le Loeuff, J.; Tong, H. (2007). "The first sinamiid fish (Holostei: Halecomorpha) from Southeast Asia (Early Cretaceous of Thailand)". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 27 (4): 827–837. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2007)27[827:TFSFHH]2.0.CO;2.

External links[edit]

Data related to Amiidae at Wikispecies