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Types of Fish - Vertebrates Slideshow

Fish with cartilidge and fish with bones

As we continue to look at fish, there are three major groupings. These classes of fish are based on the physical traits seen in the species. They are all still fish, swimming underwater, and using gills to breathe, but characteristics make them very different.

The first class of fish you need to know is the cartilaginous group. These species use cartilage in their skeletons instead of traditional calcified and hard bone. Sharks and rays are the main species that make up this group. There are two major classes of bony fish. While they both have harder skeletons, these species are broken into the ray-finned and lobe-finned groups. Most of the fish you can recognize are ray-finned. Lobe-finned fish are a bit stranger. They have ancient ancestry and look much different. Examples of lobe-finned species are the rare Coelacanth and lungfish.

Many extinct groupings of fish can be seen in fossils. The placoderms were armored fish species. They disappeared about 350 million years ago. There have also been spiny sharks and fish that had traits similar to reptiles. If you go on to study fossils, you will discover many unique species that lived long before the fish, amphibians, and reptiles of today.

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