Re: NANFA-- What *is* a fish?

Patrick Ceas (
Wed, 11 Jun 2003 16:33:53 -0500

Christopher Scharpf wrote:

>Well, I guess ray-finned fishes (actinopterygiins) might be considered right & proper fish.

Nice job with your presentation of systematics background info, Chris.

My personal preference is to call Actinopterygiians "fishes" and all
others by their names (e.g., sharks and rays are "sharks & rays" or more
properly "Chondrichthyes").

Now, can we ever truly figure out which of these main monophyletic
groups of (usually) gilled and (usually) finned vertebrates deserve to
be called fishes? I'm not sure. If we could somehow find an ancient
writing that first used used the word "fish" and used it while
specifically referring to a particular monophyletic group of organisms,
then we could formally define the word "fish." Unfortunately even Plato
calls whales fishes.

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