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Re: Definition of 'fish', & GSP is displeased ;-)



Andreas Johansson <andreasj@gmail.com> wrote:


> So why couldn't or shouldn't "hagfish" and "lungfish" be
> treated the
> same way? There's not all that many non-actinopterygian
> craniates with
> frequently used common names ending in "fish" that I can
> think of.


I take your point, and it's a good one.  Except that all non-tetrapod 
vertebrates have traditionally been referred to as 'fishes'.  This was the 
basis of the obsolescent class 'Pisces', which included hagfishes, lampreys, 
sharks, rays, and all the bony fishes.  The content of Pisces throughout most 
of the 20th century agreed with the common usage of the word 'fish'.  


(Having said that, the historical usage of 'Pisces' didn't always agree with 
the original usage according to Linnaeus.  Linnaeus thought hagfish were worms, 
and put them in the Vermes!)


The Chondrichthyes really doesn't have an all-encompassing vernacular term 
apart from 'cartilaginous fishes'.  The whale shark is still referred to as 
"the world's largest living fish".  So the word 'fish' is useful outside of 
Actinopterygii.


Cheers

Tim