Boschung, Herbert T. Formerly, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Last reviewed:July 2015
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An order of fishes, called the mail-cheeked fishes, distinguished by a unique character, the suborbital stay. The order Scorpaeniformes belongs to the class Actinopterygii (the ray-finned fishes). Individual members of the order (scorpaeniforms) possess a unique feature, the suborbital stay (a bony, often spine-bearing, ridge below the eye), which is an extension of the hypertrophied third infraorbital bone; it crosses the cheek obliquely and usually is firmly attached to the preoperculum. The head is usually spiny, whereas the body may be spiny or have bony plates, or both, or be smooth and appear naked. Almost all scorpaeniforms have prominent pectoral fins, either broad and fanlike or winglike, with the lower rays deeply incised. The order consists of more than 1300 species and approximately 260 genera in 37 families (the exact classification varies according to different authorities). There are 7 suborders: Dactylopteroidei (flying gurnards), Scorpaenoidei (scorpionfishes), Platycephaloidei (searobins and flatheads), Anoplopomatoidei (sablefishes), Hexagrammoidei (greenlings), Normanichthyoidei (no common name), and Cottoidei [including the superfamilies Cottoidea (sculpins and poachers) and Cyclopteroidea (lumpfishes and snailfishes)]. See also: Actinopterygii; Osteichthyes; Teleostei
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