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Temporal range: Late Jurassic–Recent
Osteoglossum bicirrhosum.JPG
Osteoglossum bicirrhosum
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Superorder: Osteoglossomorpha
Order: Osteoglossiformes
L. S. Berg, 1940
  • Mormirimi Rafinesque 1810
  • Mormyriformes
  • Scyphophori

Osteoglossiformes (Greek: "bony tongues") is a relatively primitive order of ray-finned fish that contains two sub-orders, the Osteoglossoidei and the Notopteroidei. All of at least 245 living species inhabit freshwater. They are found in South America, Africa, Australia and southern Asia, having first evolved in Gondwana before that continent broke up.[2]

The Gymnarchidae (the only species being Gymnarchus niloticus, the African knifefish[3]) and the Mormyridae[4] are weakly electric fish able to sense their prey using electric fields.

The mooneyes (Hiodontidae) are often classified here, but may also be placed in a separate order, Hiodontiformes.

Members of the order are notable for having toothed or bony tongues, and for having the forward part of the gastrointestinal tract pass to the left of the oesophagus and stomach (for all other fish it passes to the right). In other respects, osteoglossiform fishes vary considerably in size and form; the smallest is Pollimyrus castelnaui, at just 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long, while the largest, the arapaima (Arapaima gigas), reaches as much as 2.5 metres (8.2 ft).[2]


Phylogeny based on the following works:[5][6][7]










Timeline of genera[edit]



  1. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2009). "Osteoglossiformes" in FishBase. January 2009 version.
  2. ^ a b Greenwood, P.H. & Wilson, M.V. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., eds. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 81–84. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  3. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Gymnarchus niloticus" in FishBase. April 2014 version.
  4. ^ Greenwood, P.H. & Wilson, M.V. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., eds. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 84. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  5. ^ Betancur-Rodriguez, R.; et al. (2016). "Phylogenetic Classification of Bony Fishes Version 4". Deepfin. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  6. ^ Lavoué, S., Sullivan J. P., & Hopkins C. D. (2003): Phylogenetic utility of the first two introns of the S7 ribosomal protein gene in African electric fishes (Mormyroidea: Teleostei) and congruence with other molecular markers. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 78, 273-292. PDF
  7. ^ Sullivan, J. P., Lavoué S., & Hopkins C. D. (2000): Molecular systematics of the African electric fishes (Mormyroidea: Teleostei) and a model for the evolution of their electric organs. Journal of Experimental Biology. 203, 665-683. PDF

External links[edit]