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The Zeiformes /ˈzɪfɔːrmz/ are a small order of exclusively marine ray-finned fishes[1] most notable for the dories, a group of common food fish. The order consists of about 33 species in six extant families, mostly deep-sea types. The boarfishes (Caproidae) have been previously included in this order though they are currently included in the Perciformes.

Temporal range: Santonian to recent
Zeus faber
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Superorder: Paracanthopterygii
Order: Zeiformes
Regan, 1909
Type species
Zeus faber

See text

Zeiform bodies are usually thin and deep. Mouths are large, with distensible jaws, and there is no orbitosphenoid. Pelvic fins have 5–10 soft rays and possibly a spine, 5–10 dorsal fin spines and up to 4 anal fin spines. They range in size from the dwarf dory (Macrurocyttus acanthopodus), at 43 millimetres (1.7 in) in length, to the Cape dory (Zeus capensis), which measures up to 90 centimetres (35 in).[2]

The earliest known member of the order is Cretazeus from the Late Cretaceous (late Campanian or early Maastrichtian) of Nardò, Italy. Uniquely, despite its age, Cretazeus is thought to be a derived crown-group zeiform closely related to the Parazenidae (in contrast, the two most basal zeiform families are known from later, during the early Paleogene). This suggests that at least six lineages of zeiforms were present during the Late Cretaceous and survived the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction, despite this not being preserved in the fossil record.[3][4][5][6] Aside from Cretazeus, an earlier record of the zeiforms is an indeterminate fossil otolith ("genus Zeiformomum" tyleri) from the Santonian of Spain, but its specific affinities remain uncertain.[3][7] A potentially older genus, Palaeocyttus of Portugal, is known only from a poorly-preserved specimen and may not be a zeiform.[5]



Timeline of genera

QuaternaryNeogenePaleogeneCretaceousHolocenePleistocenePlioceneMioceneOligoceneEocenePaleoceneLate CretaceousEarly CretaceousZenionZeus (fish)ZenopsisCaprosCaprovesposusCyttoidesAntigonia (fish genus)PalaeocyttusMicrocaprosQuaternaryNeogenePaleogeneCretaceousHolocenePleistocenePlioceneMioceneOligoceneEocenePaleoceneLate CretaceousEarly Cretaceous


  1. ^ Davesne, Donald; Carnevale, Giorgio; Friedman, Matt (2017). "Bajaichthys elegans from the Eocene of Bolca (Italy) and the overlooked morphological diversity of Zeiformes (Teleostei, Acanthomorpha)". Palaeontology. 60 (2): 255–268. Bibcode:2017Palgy..60..255D. doi:10.1111/pala.12280. hdl:2027.42/136341.
  2. ^ Karrer, C.; John, H-C. (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 165–167. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  3. ^ a b c Tyler, James C.; Santini, Francesco (2005). "A phylogeny of the fossil and extant zeiform‐like fishes, Upper Cretaceous to Recent, with comments on the putative zeomorph clade (Acanthomorpha)". Zoologica Scripta. 34 (2): 157–175. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2005.00180.x. ISSN 0300-3256.
  4. ^ Grande, Terry C.; Borden, W. Calvin; Wilson, Mark V. H.; Scarpitta, Lindsay (2018). "Phylogenetic Relationships among Fishes in the Order Zeiformes Based on Molecular and Morphological Data". Copeia. 106 (1): 20–48. doi:10.1643/CG-17-594. ISSN 0045-8511.
  5. ^ a b Davesne, Donald; Carnevale, Giorgio; Friedman, Matt (2017). Johanson, Zerina (ed.). "Bajaichthys elegans from the Eocene of Bolca (Italy) and the overlooked morphological diversity of Zeiformes (Teleostei, Acanthomorpha)". Palaeontology. 60 (2): 255–268. doi:10.1111/pala.12280. hdl:2027.42/136341. ISSN 0031-0239.
  6. ^ Near, Thomas J.; Thacker, Christine E. (2024-04-18). "Phylogenetic Classification of Living and Fossil Ray-Finned Fishes (Actinopterygii)". Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History. 65 (1). doi:10.3374/014.065.0101. ISSN 0079-032X.
  7. ^ Nolf, Dick (2003). "Fish otoliths from the Santonian of the Pyrenean faunal province, and an overview of all otolith- documented North Atlantic Late Cretaceous teleosts". Bulletin de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique - Bulletin van het Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen. 73: 155–173.