Group (subclass) of bony fish that includes the curious bichirs (Polypterus species) and reedfish (Calamoichthys species) of central Africa. These fish possess a number of primitive and specialized features, e.g. a series of spinous dorsal finlets, ganoid scales, lobate pectoral fins with special skeletal supports, a spiracle, a spiral intestinal valve, and a pair of ventral, lung-like swim-bladders. The systematic position of the bichirs is not yet certain: the 11 living species, grouped together as the order Polypteriformes, have also been included in the subclass Actinopterygii.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.