A review of the systematic biology of fossil and living bony-tongue fishes, Osteoglossomorpha (Actinopterygii: Teleostei)

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ABSTRACT The bony-tongue fishes, Osteoglossomorpha, have been the focus of a great deal of morphological, systematic, and evolutionary study, due in part to their basal position among extant teleostean fishes. This group includes the mooneyes (Hiodontidae), knifefishes (Notopteridae), the abu (Gymnarchidae), elephantfishes (Mormyridae), arawanas and pirarucu (Osteoglossidae), and the African butterfly fish (Pantodontidae). This morphologically heterogeneous group also has a long and diverse fossil record, including taxa from all continents and both freshwater and marine deposits. The phylogenetic relationships among most extant osteoglossomorph families are widely agreed upon. However, there is still much to discover about the systematic biology of these fishes, particularly with regard to the phylogenetic affinities of several fossil taxa, within Mormyridae, and the position of Pantodon. In this paper we review the state of knowledge for osteoglossomorph fishes. We first provide an overview of the diversity of Osteoglossomorpha, and then discuss studies of the phylogeny of Osteoglossomorpha from both morphological and molecular perspectives, as well as biogeographic analyses of the group. Finally, we offer our perspectives on future needs for research on the systematic biology of Osteoglossomorpha.


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