Boschung, Herbert T. Formerly, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
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An order of actinopterygian (ray-finned) fishes containing the flyingfishes, needlefishes, and halfbeaks. Fishes in the order Beloniformes, along with those of the Atheriniformes and Cyprinodontiformes, comprise the series Atherinomorpha. Members of the Beloniformes are identified by the following features: interarcual cartilage that connects the first and second gill arches; small second and third epibranchials; an absence of an interhyal; a nonprotrusible upper jaw; far posterior placement of the dorsal and anal fins; abdominal pelvic fins; and the lower caudal fin lobed with more principal rays than the upper lobe, and significantly longer in needlefishes and flyingfishes. The order consists of approximately 260 species in about 35 genera and 5 or 6 families. Each family has distinctive features that make identification simple. See also: Actinopterygii; Atheriniformes; Cyprinodontiformes; Teleostei
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