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Vertebrates (subphylum vertebrata). Possess a backbone (aka vertebral column, spine) Vertebrae=Dorsal row of hollow skeletal elements (usually bone) Nerve cord=spinal cord, protected by vertebrae, (part of nervous system), ends in brain Bilateral symmetry, endoskeleton.

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Vertebrates (subphylum vertebrata)

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vertebrates subphylum vertebrata
Vertebrates (subphylum vertebrata)
  • Possess a backbone (aka vertebral column, spine)
  • Vertebrae=Dorsal row of hollow skeletal elements (usually bone)
  • Nerve cord=spinal cord, protected by vertebrae, (part of nervous system), ends in brain
  • Bilateral symmetry, endoskeleton
fish form function goals for this lab
Fish Form & FunctionGoals for this lab
  • Learn about fish: Topics
    • Skin/scales
    • Coloration
    • Locomotion
    • Fins
    • Muscles
  • Discuss 3 classes of fish
  • Dissect different fish- up to 3 different forms
  • Write paper comparing different fish forms
    • Due next Monday/Tuesday
    • Details to follow
global habitats
Global Habitats




fish importance
Fish importance
  • Appeared > 500 mya
  • Comprise half of vertebrate species
  • Feed on all types of marine organisms
  • some organisms previously discussed use fish as their home (bacteria to crustaceans)
  • Some animals eat fish
  • Most economically important marine organism
  • Vital source of protein to millions of humans
  • Ground up for chicken feed, fertilizer, leather, glue, vitamins obtained from them
  • Some kept as pets
fish morphology
Fish Morphology
  • Skin
    • Color
    • Bioluminescence
  • Swimming Locomotion
    • Fins
    • Muscles
  • Organ of the body
  • Consists of connective tissue
  • Muscles pull against skin tissue & skeleton
      • Key component of the muscle-tendon-tail fin system
  • Layers
      • Epidermis
        • Typically 250 m thick  10-30 cell layers
        • Range 20 m – 3 mm
      • Dermis
fish skin
Fish Skin
  • Function:
    • Hold fish together
    • Serves as barrier against abrasive agents
    • Osmoregulation (what does this mean?)
    • Permeable  respiratory function
    • Biomechanical properties in sharks
fish skin8
Fish Skin


  • Mucous formed in epidermis cells
      • Protect against infection
      • Constantly shed to remove bacteria and fungus
      • Ex. Clingfish lack scales, protect their bodies by a thick layer of mucous
  • Bone is also skin derivative
  • scales, most important
fish scales
Fish Scales
  • First appear as dermal bone
  • Found in fossil of Cambrian period (570 mya)
  • Layered bone, solid armor-constrained movement
  • Evolved smaller and reduced into scales
  • 5 types of scales (examples with images to follow)
    • Placoid
    • Cosmoid
    • Ganoid
    • Cycloid
    • Ctenoid
fish scales placoid
Fish Scales: Placoid
  • Found in elasmobranchs (sharks & rays)
  • “teeth like”, same composition
  • As fish grows, do not increase in size, instead new scales are added
fish scales cosmoid
Fish Scales: Cosmoid
  • In the Sarcopterygii (fish with fleshy lobe fins), primitive fish
  • Less evolved than Elasmobranchs and Actinopterygii (fish with rayed fins)
  • Scales found in fossil record but not in any living fish,
      • Except in simplified version of coelocanth and lungfish
fish scales ganoid
Fish Scales: Ganoid
  • In primitive Actinopterygii
  • Found in reedfish, polypterus, gar, bowfin, and sturgeons
  • Were thick heavy scales when first appeared
  • Rhomboid-shaped
  • Developed into teleost scales
fish scales teleost scales

Ctenoid scales

Cycloid scales

Fish Scales: Teleost scales
  • Two types:
    • Ctenoid-higher fish
    • Cycloid-soft-rayed, anchovies, sardine
  • Mineralized surface layer & inner collagenous layer
  • Scales surrounded by dermis, in dermal pockets
  • Grow from top, bottom, and insides; overlap lower part
  • Scales grow with fish
  • Characterized by concentric ridges (growth increments)
  • Fish display a multitude of patterns involving
  • 2 or more colors,
  • in many tints and shades,
  • arranged in spots, stripes, patches, and blotches
  • 3 Types of coloration predominant in oceans
  • Silver – pelagic, upper zone
  • Red – deeper zone (~ 500 m)
  • Black or violet – deep sea
  • Countershaded near shore and colorful in coral reefs
  • Chromatophores
  • Colored cells from which light is reflected off
  • Located in the skin (dermis), eyes
  • Various colors/hues-combination of different chromatophores
  • Functional Roles of Colors in Fishes-examples of each to follow
    • Social Roles
    • Advertisement
    • Mimicry
    • Hiding
    • Protection from sun (especially larvae)
coloration social roles
Coloration: Social roles

Cleaner Fish:distinctive markings recognized by larger fish



Bright, bold and showy males indicate:

Reproductive availability, either permanently or seasonally, e.g. cichlids, wrasses, minnows, sunfish

Unpalatable or venomous, e.g. lionfishes

Mimicry – Disguise:

Disguises: look like something in habitat, e.g. leaffish, sargasso fish

Mimicry: mimic distasteful species

coloration concealment
Coloration: Concealment

General color resemblance – resemble background

Variable color resemblance – change with background, e.g. flatfish

Obliterative shading – countershading, dark above, light below (invisible fish)

Disruptive coloration – disruptive contours that breakup outline; bold stripes, bars, false eye spots

Coincident disruptive coloration – joining together of unrelated parts of the body to reduce recognition; e.g. sea dragon

  • Most luminous fish found 300-1000 m depths, few shallow
  • 3 Types of light producing methods:
    • Self-luminous (on/off)
    • Symbiotic bacteria nurtured in special glands
    • Acquire from other bioluminescent organisms- diet contains light-emitting compounds
  • Function:
    • Concealment by counter-illumination - ventral placement matches background from above, against attack from below
    • Dorsal photophores safeguard against predators from above
    • Advertisement for courting, maintaining territory, to startle and confuse predators, and feeding
fish locomotion
Fish Locomotion

Means of Locomotion:

  • Simplest form: Passive drifting of larval fish
  • Many can:
      • Burrow
      • Walk, hop, or crawl
      • Glide
      • Fly
  • Most can:
      • Swim in a variety of ways

Types of fins:

    • Paired fins: pectoral and pelvic
    • Median fins:dorsal, caudal, anal, & adipose
  • Main functions:
    • Swimming – increase surface area w/o increasing mass
    • Stabilizers – yaw, stability-dorsal and anal fins
          • - brake, pitch, roll, reverse -pectoral/pelvic
          • thrust with caudal fin
    • Modifications in fins:
      • Defense – spines, enlarge fish
      • Locomotion – modified for crawling, flying, gliding
      • Hunting – lures, sensory organs
      • Respiratory organ – lungfish, supply oxygen to eggs

Soft rays vs. Spines

  • Spines:
    • Usually hard and pointed
    • Unsegmented
    • Unbranched
    • Solid
  • Soft rays:
    • Usually soft and not pointed
    • Segmented
    • Usually branched
    • Bilateral, w/left and right halves
fish muscles
Fish Muscles
  • Muscles provide power for swimming
    • Myomers=bands of muscle, run along sides of body, attached to backbone
  • Constitute up to 80% of the fish itself
  • Much hardly used except during emergencies
  • Don’t have to contend with same effect of gravity
  • Fish muscle arrangement not suitable on land
  • Cow: 30% muscle/wt
  • Tuna: 60% muscle/wt
  • Contraction causes oscillation of body and tail
  • Body bends as one side contracts b/c of an incompressible
  • notochord or vertebral column
  • Caused by bands of muscle = myomeres
fish muscles27
Fish Muscles
  • Major fibers (see handout):
  • Red, pink, and white
  • Pink intermediate between red and white
  • Muscle types do not intermingle
  • Different motor systems used for different swimming conditions
    • Red – cruising
    • White – short duration, burst swimming
    • Pink – sustained swimming, used after red and before white
fish body shapes see textbook for images figure 8 9
Fish-Body shapes-see textbook for images (Figure 8.9)
  • Fusiform-spindle shaped, e.g. tuna
  • Compressiform-laterally compressed, angelfish, butterfly fish
  • Anguilliform-eel-like
  • Filiform-even smaller anguilliform, e.g. snipe eel
body shapes continued
Body shapes continued
  • Depressiform-flatfish, rays, flounder
  • Taeniform-gunnel
  • Sagittiform-e.g. pike
  • Globiform-e.g. lumpsucker
fish locomotion30
Fish Locomotion

Swimming classified into 2 generic categories:

Periodic (or steady or sustained)- e.g. running marathons, for covering large distance at constant speed

Transient (or unsteady) – e.g. like running sprints, used for catching prey or avoiding predators


Isolate and move only fin(s)


Rajiform - pectoral

Labriform -pectoral oscillate

Diodontiform - pectoral


Gymnotiform -anal


Tetraodontiform – anal+dorsal

Balistiform – anal+dorsal

Amiiform -dorsal

Ostraciform-rigid body, caudal main propulsion

Flex caudal portion, fast swimmers

Thunniform-rigid body, caudal main propulsion



Undulate the body: eels, elongate fish




tuna ultimate living swimming machine hydrodynamic adaptations
Tuna: Ultimate Living Swimming Machinehydrodynamic adaptations
  • Big size-high performance engine
  • Streamlining-spindle shaped & rigid body
  • Small structures at various parts of the body to improve swimming efficiency and reduce drag, e.g.
    • Eyes flush with body – don’t protrude
    • Adipose eyelid - smooth, reduce drag
    • Depression grooves for dorsal, pelvic, & pectoral fins at high speed
    • Keeled peduncle - cutting through water
    • Finlets for cross-flow - delayed separation
tuna ultimate living swimming machine
Tuna: Ultimate Living Swimming Machine
  • Must swim to survive:
    • No gas bladder, rigid body, ram ventilation
  • High blood volume, large heart, maintain warm core (25oC)
  • School to utilize vortices generated by other fish (~like race car driver who “slipstreams” and then slingshots past leading car)
  • Adopt swim-glide for energy savings (like birds)
  • High narrow tails – propulsion with least effort, used to design efficient propulsion systems for ships

Slipstream: The area of reduced pressure or forward suction produced by and immediately behind a fast-moving object as it moves through air or water.

fish mouth types some
Fish-mouth types (some)
  • Large mouth with teeth (e.g. barracuda)
  • Long snout/small mouth (e.g. butterfly fish)
  • Protrusible mouth (e.g. slipmouth)
  • Beak-like mouth (e.g. parrotfish)
  • Large mouth (e.g. herrings)

Three Classes:




class agnatha
Class Agnatha
  • Jawless fishes
  • Ex. Hagfish, lampreys
  • No paired fins
  • Gill holes, no slits or operculum
  • Large sucking mouth with teeth
  • Scavengers
  • As a defense mechanism, secrete slime then tie itself in knots to escape predators
  • Also tie in knots for pulling food off carcasses, and cleaning slime from body
class agnatha39
Class Agnatha

Hagfish’s mouth

class chondricthyes
Class Chondricthyes
  • Sharks and rays
  • Skeleton = cartilage, not bone
  • Paired fins-efficient swimming
  • Gill slits exposed,
  • no operculum
  • Large oil-filled liver
  • Heterocercal tail (upper longer than lower lobe)
  • Placoid scales-skin like sandpaper
class osteichthyes
Class Osteichthyes
  • Bony fish
  • Largest group of living vertebrates
  • Bones for skeletons
  • Gill covering (operculum)
  • Swim bladder (balloon-like)
  • Homocercal tails (even)
  • Cycloid & Ctenoid scales
dissection worksheet
Dissection Worksheet
  • Working in groups of 2 or 3 people,
    • dissect 1 fish following the worksheet and writing the answers to the questions in your notebook as you go.
  • Need to draw 3 external illustrations in your notebooks
    • 1 of the fish you are dissecting, before you dissect it
    • 2 others that have specialized mouths and caudal fins
      • label the type of mouth and caudal fin each has
    • Label the following structures on each illustration:
      • gill cover, pectoral fins, pelvic fins, dorsal fin,
      • anal fin, adipose fin (if present), lateral line
      • give the head length, total length, and the fork length (of the dissected one ONLY, see handout)
      • look at a scale under a microscope and draw it.
dissection worksheet continued
Dissection Worksheet continued
  • Cut through body cavity
    • Find the following
      • Heart
      • Liver
      • Stomach/intestines
      • Swim bladder (if applicable)
      • Spine
  • Cut cross section, 2/3 down the body
    • Red muscle
    • White muscle
scales use slides
Scales- use slides
  • Draw
    • Placoid
    • Ganoid
    • Cycloid
    • Ctenoid