; subclass Brachiopterygii, order Polypteriformes)
A small family of freshwater fish that have an elongate body, the skin covered with ganoid scales and, typically, a dorsal fin consisting of a series of separate finlets each with its own stiff ray. The pectoral fins consist of a fleshy stalk bearing a fan-like fin. Bichirs can use the modified swim-bladder as a lung. Polypterus bichir (Nile bichir), 70 cm, has about 15 dorsal finlets. It is a carnivorous fish often found along the weedy edges of lakes and rivers. In addition to the 11 extant species a number of fossil species are known. They occur in Africa.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.