Dorsal fin rays 19-26; anal fin rays 13-22; caudal fin deeply forked. Maximum length about 28 cm.
Fossils include the Eocene Protacanthodes (Tyler and Santini, 2002). Four genera, Pseudotriacanthus, Triacanthus, Tripodichthys, and Trixiphichthys, with seven species (e.g., K. Matsuura in Carpenter and Niem, 2001; Santini and Tyler, 2002a).
Superfamily Balistoidea (leatherjackets). Body usually compressed; head and body covered with scales (scales may be highly modified and hidden by tissue); no pelvic fins (pelvic spine or tubercle present in balistines and some
monacanthines, underlying pelvis present); first dorsal spine with locking mechanism (the small second spine, when present, forms the locking mechanism); upper jaw not protractile; upper jaw with two rows of protruding incisorlike teeth; soft dorsal fin with 23-52 rays and anal fin with 20-66 rays; caudal fin with 12 principal rays; the eyes can be rotated independently. Maximum length about 1.0 m, attained in Aluterus scriptus. About 43 genera and 142 species.
Family BALISTIDAE (505)—triggerfishes. Marine; Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.
Three dorsal spines (third can be minute); all soft fins with branched rays; scales in regular series, platelike; upper jaw usually with four teeth in outer and three in the inner series on each premaxillary, developed more for crushing than for nibbling; 18 vertebrae.
Eleven genera, Abalistes, Balistapus, Balistes, Balistoides, Canthidermis, Melichthys, Odonus, Rhinecanthus, Sufflamen, Xanthichthys, and Xenobalistes, with about 40 species (e.g., K. Matsuura in Carpenter and Niem, 2001).
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