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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Superclassis/Classis: Actinopterygii
Classis/Subclassis: Actinopteri
Subclassis/Infraclassis: Neopterygii
Infraclassis: Teleostei
Megacohors: Osteoglossocephalai
Supercohors: Clupeocephala
Cohors: Euteleosteomorpha
Subcohors: Neoteleostei
Infracohors: Eurypterygia
Sectio: Ctenosquamata
Subsectio: Acanthomorphata
Divisiones: Acanthopterygii - Lampripterygii - Paracanthopterygii - Polymixiipterygii

Acanthomorphata Betancur-R et al., 2014


Acanthomorpha Rosen, 1973


Betancur-R, R., Wiley, E., Bailly, N., Miya, M., Lecointre, G. & Ortí, G. 2014. Phylogenetic Classification of Bony Fishes Version 3. HTML Reference page.
Betancur-R., R., Wiley, E.O., Arratia, G., Acero P., A., Bailly, N., Miya, M., Lecointre, G. & Ortí, G. 2017. Phylogenetic classification of bony fishes. BMC Evolutionary Biology 17(1): 162. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-017-0958-3 Open access. Reference page.

Acanthomorpha (meaning "thorn-shaped") is an extraordinarily diverse taxon of teleost fishes with spiny fin rays. The clade contains about one-third of the world's modern species of vertebrates: over 14,000 species.[3]

A key anatomical innovation in acanthomorphs is hollow and unsegmented spines at the anterior edge of the dorsal and anal fins.[4] A fish can extend these sharp bony spines to protect itself from predators, but can also retract them to decrease drag when swimming.[5] Another shared feature is a particular rostral cartilage, associated with ligaments attached to the rostrum and premaxilla, that enables the fish to protrude its jaws considerably to catch food.[6]

Rosen coined the name in 1973 to describe a clade comprising Acanthopterygii, Paracanthopterygii, and also ctenothrissiform fossils from the Cretaceous period, such as Aulolepis and Ctenothrissa. Those fossils share several details of the skeleton, and especially of the skull, with modern acanthomorphs.[2] Originally based on anatomy, Acanthomorpha has been borne out by more recent molecular analyses.[7]

The oldest acanthomorphs were initially reported by Louis Agassiz from the Cenomanian Sannine Formation of Lebanon, and were considered as such for over a century until slightly older remains were identified from the end-Albian of Mexico. Early acanthomorph fossils are diverse and well-preserved in formations from the early part of the Late Cretaceous from the Cenomanian to the Campanian, but become exceedingly rare throughout the Maastrichtian and the Paleocene (spanning the likely origins of a number of modern taxa) before a second explosion in fossil abundance and diversity in the Eocene. This mysterious gap is known as "Patterson's Gap" after paleontologist Colin Patterson, who first identified it in 1993.[1]

The phylogeny of living bony fishes[8][9][10][11]


Lampridiformes (oarfish, opah, ribbonfish)


Percopsiformes (troutperches)


Zeiformes (dories)


Stylephoriformes (tube-eyes, thread-fins)

Gadiformes (cods)


Polymixiiformes (beardfish)


Beryciformes (alfonsinos; whalefishes)

Trachichthyiformes (pinecone fishes; slimeheads)


Holocentriformes (squirrelfish; soldier fishes)


Fossil record and evolutionary history

Some otoliths, calcium carbonate structures that form the ears of fishes, have been found from the Jurassic Period that may belong to acanthomorphs, but the oldest body fossils from this taxon are only known from the middle of the Cretaceous Period, about 100 million years ago. Acanthomorphs from the early Late Cretaceous were small, typically about 4 centimeters long, and fairly rare.[12] Toward the beginning of the Cenozoic era, they exploded in an adaptive radiation, so by the time their fossils begin appear more frequently in Eocene-aged strata, they had reached their modern diversity of 300 families.[5]

Recently discovered fish scales from Poland suggest that the oldest acanthomorphs occurred in the Late Triassic.[13]


Friedman, Matt; V. Andrews, James; Saad, Hadeel; El-Sayed, Sanaa (2023-06-16). "The Cretaceous–Paleogene transition in spiny-rayed fishes: surveying "Patterson's Gap" in the acanthomorph skeletal record André Dumont medalist lecture 2018". Geologica Belgica. doi:10.20341/gb.2023.002. ISSN 1374-8505.
Rosen, Donn Eric (1973), "Interrelationships of higher euteleostean fishes", in Greenwood, P.H.; Miles, R.S.; Patterson, Colin (eds.), Interrelationships of Fishes, Academic Press, pp. 397–513, ISBN 0-12-300850-6
Chen, Wei-Jen; Bonillo, Céline; Lecointre, Guillaume (2003). "Repeatability of clades as a criterion of reliability: a case study for molecular phylogeny of Acanthomorpha (Teleostei) with larger number of taxa". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 26 (2): 262–288. doi:10.1016/s1055-7903(02)00371-8. PMID 12565036.
acanthomorphs group, of the phylogeny team, "What are the acanthomorphs?", AcanthoWeb, UPMC, Paris – UMR 7138, Systématique, Adaptation, Évolution, retrieved October 24, 2012
Maisey, John G. (1996), Discovering fossil fishes, Henry Holt & Company
Johnson, G. David; Wiley, E.O. (2007), "Acanthomorpha", Tree of Life Web Project, retrieved October 24, 2012
Near, Thomas J.; Eytan, Ron I.; Dornburg, Alex; Kuhn, Kristen L.; Moore, Jon A.; Davis, Matthew P.; Wainwright, Peter C.; Friedman, Matt; Smith, W. Leo (2012). "Resolution of ray-finned fish phylogeny and timing of diversification". PNAS. 109 (34): 13698–13703. Bibcode:2012PNAS..10913698N. doi:10.1073/pnas.1206625109. PMC 3427055. PMID 22869754.
Betancur-R; et al. (2013). "The Tree of Life and a New Classification of Bony Fishes". PLOS Currents Tree of Life. 5 (Edition 1). doi:10.1371/currents.tol.53ba26640df0ccaee75bb165c8c26288 (inactive 2024-02-20). hdl:2027.42/150563. PMC 3644299. PMID 23653398.
Betancur-R; et al. (2013). "Complete tree classification (supplemental figure)" (PDF). PLOS Currents Tree of Life (Edition 1). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-21.
Betancur-R; et al. (2013). "Appendix 2 – Revised Classification for Bony Fishes" (PDF). PLOS Currents Tree of Life (Edition 1).
Betancur-Rodriguez; et al. (2016). "Phylogenetic Classification of Bony Fishes Version 4". Deepfin. Archived from the original on 11 July 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
Stewart, J.D. (1996), "Cretaceous acanthomorphs of North America", in Arratia, Gloria; Viohl, Günter (eds.), Mesozoic Fishes – Systematics and Paleoecology, Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, pp. 383–394, ISBN 3-923871-90-2

Antczak, Mateusz; Bodzioch, Adam (January 2018). "Diversity of Fish Scales in Late Triassic Deposits of Krasiejów (SW Poland)". Paleontological Research. 22 (1): 91–100. doi:10.2517/2017pr012. ISSN 1342-8144. S2CID 133634757.


Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology. 364: 560. Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
TJ Near; A Dornburg; RI Eytan; et al. (2013). "Phylogeny and tempo of diversification in the superradiation of spiny-rayed fishes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110 (31): 12738–12743. Bibcode:2013PNAS..11012738N. doi:10.1073/pnas.1304661110. PMC 3732986. PMID 23858462.

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