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Polypteriformes: Rhombic ganoid scales; spiracular, opening large but canal lost; dorsal fin consisting of 5-18 finlets, each with a single spine to which is attached one or more soft rays; pectoral fin rays supported by numerous ossified radials which attach to a cartilaginous plate and two rods, thence to the scapula and coracoid; a pair of gular plates, no branchiostegals; maxilla firmly united to skull; intestine with spiral valve; lungs partially used in respiration; vertebrae with ossified centra and neural canal. Maximum length approximately 90cm (35.4"), most species less than 30cm (11.8").

Families in this order: