Usually two dorsal spines—the second is usually much smaller and it may be absent; soft dorsal, anal, and pectoral rays simple; scales small, in regular series; body prickly or furry to touch; upper jaw usually with three teeth in outer and two in the inner series on each premaxillary, developed for nibbling; 19-31 vertebrae. The greatest number of filefishes, some 54 species, occur in Australia (Hutchins, 1977). Pliocene fossils are known from Italy (Sorbini, 1988).
About 32 genera (e.g., Aluterus, Amanses, Anacanthus, Brachaluteres, Cantherhines, Chaetoderma, Enigmacanthus, Monacanthus, Navodon, Oxymonacanthus, Paraluteres, Paramonacanthus, Pervagor, Pseudalutarius, Rudarius, Stephanolepis, and Thamnaconus) with about 102 species (e.g., Hutchins, 1997, 2002; J. B. Hutchins in Carpenter and Niem, 2001).
Superfamily Ostracioidea (Ostracodermi)
Family OSTRACIIDAE (Ostraciontidae) (507)—boxfishes (cowfishes and trunkfishes).
Marine, tropical; Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.
Body encased in a bony carapace; no pelvic skeleton; no spinous dorsal; dorsal and anal fins each with 9-13 rays; upper jaw not protractile; usually 18 vertebrae. Maximum length about 60 cm.
Some trunkfishes are known to discharge a toxic substance, termed "ostracitoxin," which will kill other fishes in confined quarters. The substance is also toxic to the trunkfish, but less so than to most other fishes. Fossils include the Eocene Eolactoria and Proaracana and the Oligocene Oligolactoria (e.g., Tyler and Santini, 2002).
Two subfamilies, 14 genera, with about 33 species (e.g., K. Matsuura in Carpenter and Niem, 2001). Many authors recognize the two subfamilies as separate families (e.g., K. Matsuura in Carpenter and Niem, 2001; Santini and Tyler, 2003); however, the two appear to form a tight clade relative to the two maintained subfamilies of the Tetraodontidae. J.M Leis in a 1984 article based on early life history characters in the "Ontogeny and systematics of fishes" placed this family in a clade with the Diodontidae and Molidae (i.e., it would be placed in the present suborder Tetraodontoidei), in contrast with earlier works using adult specimens aligning it with the Balistidae and Monacanthidae.
Subfamily Aracaninae. Carapace open behind the dorsal and anal fins; ventral ridge more or less developed; caudal fin usually with 11 principal rays. These fishes are found in relatively deep water in the Indo-West Pacific from Hawaii to South Africa; they are most abundant around Australia.
Seven genera, Anoplocapros, Aracana, Caprichthys, Capropygia, Kentrocapros, Polyplacapros, and Strophiurichthys, with about 13 species.
Subfamily Ostraciinae. Carapace closed, at least behind the anal fin; no ventral ridge; caudal fin with 10 principal rays.
Seven genera, Acanthostracion, Lactophrys, Lactoria, Ostracion, Rhinesomus, Rhynchostracion, and Tetrosomus, with about 20 species.
Suborder Tetraodontoidei (Gymnodontes). Jaw "teeth" fused (true teeth are absent—the upper and lower jaws have cutting edges; a similar looking beak is found in the Scaridae); depending on the presence or absence of sutures, there may be two, three, or four such "teeth"; upper jaw not protractile; posttemporal absent; urohyal absent except in Triodon; pelvis absent except in Triodon and pelvic fin (spine and rays) absent. Fossils include the Eocene Eoplectus and Zignoichthys (Tyler and Santini, 2002). Four families, 29 genera, and 154 species.
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