Boschung, Herbert T. Formerly, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
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A class of vertebrates containing the lobe-finned fishes, including the coelacanths and lungfishes, as well as the tetrapods. The class Sarcopterygii comprises the orders Coelacanthiformes (coelacanths), Ceratodontiformes (Australian lungfish), and Lepidosireniformes (South American and African lungfishes), as well as the Tetrapoda (often considered as a superclass or infraclass). Exclusive of the tetrapods, the extant members of the Sarcopterygii (sarcopterygians) are assigned to two subclasses: Coelacanthimorpha and Dipnoi. The subclass Coelacanthimorpha contains the order Coelacanthiformes, consisting of two extant species of coelacanths in the family Latimeriidae. The subclass Dipnoi contains two orders: Ceratodontiformes, consisting of one extant species of Australian lungfish in the family Ceratodontidae; and Lepidosireniformes, consisting of one extant species of South American lungfish in the family Lepidosirenidae and four extant species of African lungfishes in the family Protopteridae (see illustration). There are also numerous extinct taxa known only from fossils. See also: Coelacanthiformes; Dipnoi; Extinction (biology); Fossil; Osteichthyes; Tetrapoda
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