The flying fish (Exocoetus) enters the LRT alongside the rudder fish

Updated February 4, 2021
with the addition of taxa, Exocoetus nests with Seriola sonata, the rudder fish.

Nesting flying fish (Exocoetus) with swordfish (Xiphias)
(Figs. 1–3) in the large reptile tree (LRT, 1542 taxa; subset Fig. 4) seems like an odd pairing. Even so, no tested taxon is closer to swordfish than flying fish.

Figure 1. Flying fish (Exocoetus) skull.

Figure 1. Flying fish (Exocoetus) skull.


Figure 2. Flying fish (Exocoetus volitans) line drawing.

Figure 2. Flying fish (Exocoetus volitans) line drawing.

Exocoetus volitans (Linneaus 1758; up to 30m ) is the extant blue flyingfish, here related to the swordfish, XiphiasExocoetus travels in schools or schoals. Sometimes they exit the water to avoid predators. Juveniles have a relatively shorter torso. Hatchlings are slow-moving and tiny. Note the antorbital fenestra and large lacrimal, as in Xiphias. Distinctly flying fish have a jaw joint directly below the orbit. The coracoid is larger than the scapula, raising the pectorl fins.

Seriola zonata (Valenciennes 1833; commonly 50cm, up to 75cm) is the extant banded rudderfish. Large individuals (over 10 inches) have no abdominal bands,  but a raccoon-stripe on the eye and an iridescent gold stripe on the side are present. Adults are usually called amberjacks. Striped juveniles are usually called pilotfish. This generic fish is basal to a wide variety including flying fish, puffers, frogfish, anglers and mudskippers.

If I missed a citation that predates this one
that supports this hypothesis of interrelationships, please send me the citation. It does not appear to be matched by genomic (gene/molecule) studies.

Linnaeus C 1758. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.
Valenciennes A in Cuvier G and Valenciennes A 1833. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome neuvième. Suite du livre neuvième. Des Scombéroïdes. 9: i-xxix + 3 pp. + 1-512. Pls. 246-279.



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